Iraqi civilians who claim to have been tortured by British forces have won a legal action for a fresh public inquiry into their alleged mistreatment.The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that an investigation already set up by the Ministry of Defence into the abuse would not be sufficiently independent.
More than 100 Iraqis, led by Ali Zaki Mousa from Basra, who maintains that he endured months of beatings while in captivity in 2006-07, successfully argued that the UK Government was failing to meet its obligations under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act.
At an earlier High Court hearing, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Silber rejected claims for an immediate fresh public inquiry, holding that the investigation already under way was sufficient to address the issue of abuse. They pointed out there were two other "significant public inquiries" into specific allegations of ill-treatment of detainees in Iraq – the Baha Mousa inquiry, which reported in September, and the Al Sweady inquiry.
But yesterday Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Lord Justice Sullivan and Lord Justice Pitchford, stated that the MoD investigation was being carried out by the Royal Military Police whose members had been involved in the original detention of the men in Iraq.
The judges said: "We are of the view that the practical independence of the investigation is, at least as a matter or reasonable perception, substantially compromised." A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We note that the Court of Appeal has not ordered a public inquiry but has asked the Defence Secretary to reconsider how to meet the investigative obligations."