Iraq: costs soar to £18m for Al-Sweady inquiry into conduct of British soldiers

Investigation adjourns for summer and is not expected to report back until late next year

An ongoing public inquiry into allegations against British soldiers in Iraq has already cost more than £18 million, and is not expected to publish its report until late 2014.

The Al-Sweady Inquiry, looking into claims of unlawful killing and ill-treatment following a battle in May 2004, follows on from an investigation by the Royal Military Police which was judged inadequate by the High Court in 2009.

The expenditure figure of £18.5 million for the current inquiry is from 1 December 2009, and does not include either VAT or the costs for various key witnesses and participants being met by the Ministry of Defence.

The families of Iraqi nationals pushed for a judicial review after it was claimed that Iraqi detainees were murdered at a British camp, and five others were repeatedly mistreated during imprisonment, following a battle near Majar-al-Kabir on 14 and 15 May 2004.

The Battle of Danny Boy, named after a checkpoint near its location north of Basra, involved close-quarters use of bayonets after around a hundred armed insurgents ambushed a patrol of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

Around 50 witnesses have already given evidence about what happened next to the inquiry, which adjourned for the summer on Thursday, and a further 200 statements are to be scheduled for when oral hearings resume in September.

Labour MP Katy Clark today voiced concerns about the length of the process.

She said: "The allegations made by the relatives of those who died in the 'Battle of Danny Boy' along with those who survived the battle are among the most serious to be made against UK armed forces during the whole of the Iraq war.

"While it's right that these are thoroughly investigated, the whole process is taking far too long.

"Those involved have had to wait over nine years already to learn the truth about exactly what happened in May 2004 and may be made to wait a further year before the Al-Sweady Inquiry publishes its findings.

"These costly and lengthy proceedings need to be concluded as swiftly as possible."

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said those responsible for the inquiry should bear in mind who is "picking up the tab".

He said: "Public inquiries are a lengthy and costly process, but the authorities must do far more to keep the bill to taxpayers down."

A spokeswoman for the inquiry said: ""Unlike most public inquiries, the facts at the centre of this case are hotly disputed. Therefore the Inquiry had to set up an investigation to gather together the evidence and identify witnesses.

"The inquiry had to undertake a massive disclosure exercise, involving the approach of over 600 military personnel and around 100 Iraqi witnesses, and the addition of more than 6,000 documents [from the Ministry of Defence].

"We are also investigating events which occurred nine years ago, in another jurisdiction with complex international dimensions. Taken together these factors help explain why the inquiry has taken three years to carefully assemble the evidence."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine