£5m investigation into war crimes to be disbanded

A specialist unit of police and historians investigating suspected war criminals in Britain is to be disbanded in March after spending more than £5m in three years.

Legal authorities in Scotland have ruled out any prosecutions and in England a final decision is likely to be taken in the next three months on a shortlist of seven suspects where police believe there is a case worth taking to court. The files have been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. No charges have yet resulted from the four years of investigations around the world into the records of suspected war criminals..

Members of the Scotland Yard police unit of nine detectives, two historians, two constables and five civilian support staff have visited Russia, the Balkans, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Poland, Israel, the United States, Canada and SouthAfrica during the investigation. More than 300 cases were reviewed, with more than 250 people cleared. Many suspects have died in the past five years. Of those who have been investigated only one was under 65.

If any prosecutions are recommended they can come to court more quickly than a normal prosecution for murder or manslaughter.

The 1991 War Crimes legislation provides for the committal stage of any prosecution to be missed out. The investigating authorities have been careful to keep the identities of the suspects secret, for fear of giving grounds for protracted legal argumentsthat trials had been prejudiced.

The question of prosecuting war criminals in Britain was never an issue in the immediate post-war years when the enemy was seen as Communism and the overriding need was to reconstruct the economy. Britain realised that it might be harbouring war criminals only in 1986, when a list of 17 suspects was handed to Douglas Hurd, then Home Secretary. The list grew to more than 100, of whom 30 were still under active investigation by Scotland Yard a year ago.Two Commonwealth countries, Canada and Australia, setup similar units, but there have been no convictions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss