Lawyers Exploiting Military Operations for Financial Gain in the UK

One of the most distasteful things about the UK’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is the way unscrupulous – and maybe actually treasonous – lawyers have exploited it to smear the Armed Forces and, as a nice little bonus, get their hands on piles of taxpayer’s money.

War is fast-paced, confusing and brutal. Sometimes mistakes happen that result in harm to non-combatants, and it’s important to investigate those to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Then there are a small percentage of soldiers in any army who’ll break the rules and commit war crimes. They need to be found and punished. But there are also greedy ambulance chasers who’ll go shopping for horror stories, then use them to launch dishonest lawsuits.

On the 14th of May in 2004, a British Army patrol was ambushed near Majar al-Kabir, close to Al Amarah in southern Iraq. The patrol called in reinforcements, who were also ambushed, and the two small groups of soldiers were cut off and under heavy attack for several hours. Finally, after intense close-quarter battle that ended with bayonets being used, the insurgents were driven off. They left 28 dead behind and, as they retreated, they took about the same number of dead and dying with them.

This wasn’t the first time local insurgents had attacked the British Army. The year before, six military policemen had been murdered at a nearby checkpoint; to find out if any of the same attackers had been involved, the patrol took 20 of the bodies back to their patrol base to run biometrics on them. After they were recorded, the bodies were returned to the families – and that’s where it all started to go wrong.

Four years after the incident, known as the Battle of Danny Boy after a nearby VCP, two British law firms started sniffing around. Martyn Day of Leigh Day, and Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, had been illegally touring Iraq asking locals if they had any complaints about British troops. Now they alleged that, following the battle, 31 Iraqis had been captured and taken to the patrol base where 22 of them were then tortured and murdered.

LawyerPredictably, there was an uproar; with a war crime of this scale alleged, the press went wild and the government announced a public inquiry to be held at huge expense. Five years and £31 million later, the inquiry collapsed when Shiner’s firm withdrew the murder allegations; it turned out they’d known for at least a year that it was all bollocks, but had kept pushing in exchange for legal aid money and the hope of a big pay-out from the Army.

Now Public Interest Lawyers has gone out of business, while Day and Shiner are being investigated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and face probable disciplinary action. The British government has said it’s looking at ways to prevent similar abuses from happening again. If they’re serious, the solution isn’t hard to find – stop applying civilian law to military operations, and bring back Crown Immunity.

The ambulance chasers and their Iraqi accomplices made their allegations under the European Convention on Human Rights, which the idiotic Tony Blair had decided should apply to troops deployed on operations. Specifically, they claimed that the Army had denied the dead insurgents of their “right to life.”

This is obviously ridiculous. The right to life applies in the context of normal everyday life; EU residents have the right to not be killed by their governments. Clearly it doesn’t apply in the middle of an actual war zone, where your right to life ends the moment you point a gun at a soldier. Still, Blair decided it should apply, and I’m sure the fact his wife is a prominent human rights lawyer had nothing to do with it. At the same time, Crown Immunity no longer protects soldiers – although it’s been kept for politicians. Blair himself is facing legal action from the families of soldiers who died in Iraq, but if he loses his costs and damages will be paid by the taxpayer because Crown Immunity shields him.

When politicians can send men overseas to kill and die, but abandon them to ambulance chasers when it becomes politically expedient, something is wrong in society. When those same politicians are protected from any legal consequences of their own actions, something fucking stinks. Laws designed to protect drunks in a police cell at 3am on a Saturday morning have no place on the battlefield. Politicians need to end this idiocy now.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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