UK paid over $28 million in Iraq compensation, newly released documents reveal

UK paid over $28 million in Iraq compensation, newly released documents reveal
A freedom of information request has revealed that 1,471 claims brought against the UK army over alleged abuses committed in Iraq have cost British taxpayers $28 million.
2 min read
13 June, 2017
The total cost of settling the claims is thought to near £100 million [AFP]

British taxpayers spent over $28 million in compensation claims following the UK's military intervention in Iraq in 2003, documents released according to the Freedom of Information (FoI) act have revealed.

The total bill came to £21,949,879 ($27,990,955) and related to 1,471 claims brought by Iraqis between 2003-2004 and 2016-2017 against the British Army.

It follows the occupation of Basra and other areas of southern Iraq by the British Army following the 2003 invasion.

Despite the huge costs, the ministry of defence insists that not all the payouts were admissions of guilt.

"The reason for the settlement of the overwhelming majority of claims received is not, as has been reported, that the MoD accepts that the claimants were maltreated," the ministry's FoI response said.

The payouts were made in accordance with a European Court of Human Rights decision in 2011 on unlawful detention. 

The MoD figures show that the vast majority of cases, some 1,145, were settled for £2.1 million ($2.7 million).

The UK paid £19.8 million ($25 million) in out-of-court settlements for 326 cases of a further 1,200 claims for wrongful imprisonment or mistreatment that were brought before British courts.

The release of the figures follows the clearing of Leigh Day solicitors - Martyn Day, Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther - of wrongdoing in pursuing claims for Iraqis who were accused of having told "deliberate lies".

Their claims relate to the Battle of Danny Boy in May 2004, when British soldiers were said to have been ordered to remove the bodies of 20 Iraqis and take them back to camp with nine prisoners of war.

The detainees - who allegedly fought as part of the Mahdi Army Shia militia - claimed that they were were mistreated and witnessed the torture and murder of their fellow insurgents.

The MoD has declined to put a figure on payments in relation to court costs, however it is estimared that the total bill could be as much as £100 million ($127 million).