ACCUSATIONS OF ABUSES BY BRITISH ARMY OVER, DISMISSED.
I campaigned for the rights of Iraq veterans. Now this long, cruel witch-hunt of our troops is over, it’s time to give them an apology, writes lawyer HILARY MEREDITH By Hilary Meredith For The Daily Mail
Published: 02 June 2020
At last, justice has been done. The long, cruel witch-hunt is almost over, after one of the most shameful episodes in modern legal history, which saw thousands of British soldiers who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2009 accused of brutality and abuses against civilians.
As the catalogue of charges lengthened, vast sums of public money were spent on legal investigations. Veterans were hounded, homes wrecked, and reputations trashed.
People who risked their lives on our behalf were targeted because of their heroic service.
But the flood of more than 4,000 claims against the Armed Forces turned out to be a complete fabrication.
About £57 million was spent on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), the body set up by Gordon Brown’s Labour Government in 2010 to scrutinise the lurid accusations.
As the claims deluge rose, the Labour Government panicked and established IHAT. Its creation only encouraged Solicitor Shiner and his clients to crank up their offensive.
More than 1,000 of IHAT’s cases were brought by Shiner’s firms. His key fixer, understood to be Abu Jamal, was allegedly hired by IHAT on £40,000-a-year — potentially generating a conflict of interest in which the agent of a lawyer bringing claims was also employed by the team investigating those claims.
IHAT felt so overwhelmed it also contracted a company called Red Snapper — largely made up of ex-police detectives — to conduct investigations. Eager to please their masters, Red Snapper used bully-boy tactics as disgraceful as Shiner’s. A parliamentary inquiry — to which I provided evidence — heard how Red Snapper investigators turned up at family homes or military barracks to demand information and even threaten arrest, yet had no authority to do so. They were also in the habit of falsely introducing themselves as police officers — the only conviction was of one of its own private investigators for impersonating a police officer.
The entire thrust of IHAT’s work crumbled amid revelations about Shiner’s corruption.
In 2017, he was found guilty by a professional tribunal of multiple misconduct charges, including dishonesty and lack of integrity.
Struck off as a solicitor, he filed for bankruptcy.
MEANWHILE IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:
COUNTY CAVAN: Council denies using private investigators
Cavan County Council has denied hiring private investigators to help crack down on enforcement matters.
Responding to a query put by The Anglo-Celt, the local authority said it has not used private snoops “in any capacity” going back as far as five years.
It comes after details emerged that councils across the country had spent almost a quarter of a million euro on hiring private detectives.
Such operatives have been employed by some local authorities to examine incidents of illegal waste or investigate those behind protected disclosures, as well as planning enforcement over the past three years.
Dublin City Council has paid out the most over the past three years, with €72,413 spent on investigations since the beginning of 2017.
That included a sum of €58,548 paid out for an investigation into a protected disclosure.
A further €9,000 was paid out to an investigator for another protected disclosure inquiry in 2018.
Monaghan County Council also ran up a bill of €8,555 on private investigator services last year; while €13,463 was spent in Meath on private detective services over three years.
Cork City Council meanwhile spent €31,300 on private detective services over the three years.
In Limerick, the total spend was €35,781; Kildare ran up a bill €27,801, with almost all spent on environmental enforcement.
Fingal County Council spent €14,300 over the past two years.
Elsewhere, Kilkenny Council spent €2,694 on a planning enforcement investigation, and Clare spent €1,697 to serve “statutory notices”.
Roscommon County Council’s environmental section paid out €5,990.
A former garda inspector is calling for a cold case unit to be incorporated into every jurisdiction in Ireland.
Pat Marry, who is now a private detective based in Mullingar, doesn’t believe Gardaí devote enough man power to following up on missing person cases, unidentified remains or unresolved murders.
He thinks a person needs be responsible for keeping pressure on investigations as detectives retire or resources become strained.
The author of Making a Detective says there’s no area in Ireland unaffected by cold cases: