Lawyer admits misconduct over allegations against Iraq War veterans

Lawyer admits misconduct over allegations against Iraq War veterans
Human rights lawyer Phil Shiner has admitted misconduct charges after bringing thousands of cases against the UK's ministry of defence, claiming British soldiers murdered, mutilated and tortured Iraqi detainees
2 min read
09 December, 2016
UK troops faced allegations of war crimes against Iraqis brought by Phil Shiner [Getty]

A UK human rights lawyer accused of finding clients in Iraq to bring abuse and torture claims against British troops has admitted misconduct charges.

Phil Shiner has said he paid an agent to find him clients and acting improperly in claiming UK armed forces mistreated and murdered civilians.

His now-defunct firm Public Interest Lawyers brought forward more than 2,000 cases against the ministry of defence.

A disciplinary tribunal heard he paid thousands to a man - referred to in court papers as Z, but understood to be called Abu Jamal - and others for the client referrals, which is prohibited.

One allegation concerned his claims at a press conference in February 2008, when he said UK troops had killed and tortured Iraqi civilians at the 2004 Battle of Danny Boy in al-Amarah in southern Iraq.

The tribunal heard Shiner accepted he acted recklessly in saying Iraqis were taken alive and later murdered after the gun-fight.

The aftermath of the battle became a central point of the al-Sweady public inquiry.

The five-year $39 million investigation ruled in 2014 that allegations of murder and torture made against UK soldiers by Iraqi detainees were "deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility".

Shiner first came to public attention when he represented the Iraqi family of Baha Mousa, who was beaten to death by British soldiers.

He then built his career on many other high-profile legal actions against the ministry of defence relating to alleged human rights abuses involving UK armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His firm closed down in August this year after being stripped of legal aid funding for breaching contractual requirements.

The ministry of defence has spent more than $125 million on Iraq-related claims since 2004.

Shiner admitted nine allegations of acting without integrity, including making "unsolicited direct approaches" to potential clients through a fixer.

He also admitted a further nine charges in part, accepting he acted without integrity but denying he did so dishonestly.

He denied a further six allegations, including misleading the inquiry and the Legal Services Commission over legal aid grants.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May in October announced plans to allow its soldiers to opt out of European human rights law which would end "the industry of vexatious claims" against troops.