Pressure grows for inquiry into UK role in Iraq 'war crimes'

Senior UK military and political figures could end up in the dock as 400 victims denounce 'systemic' use of torture and cruelty

Political Editor

Legal experts from around the world are to join calls for an investigation into whether British politicians and senior military figures should be prosecuted for alleged war crimes in Iraq.

An open letter from about a dozen heavyweight figures will increase the pressure on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a formal inquiry into allegations that more than 400 Iraqis were victims of  thousands of incidents of mistreatment amounting to “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

The Independent on Sunday revealed that a 250-page dossier has been submitted to the ICC  in The Hague by Public Interest Lawyers and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. It will be published in London on Tuesday.

Ministers dismissed the need for an investigation, pointing out that the ICC had rejected such a call in 2006.  However, the letter from international experts will argue that fewer than 20 cases were known about then and that hundreds of new cases have emerged since.

William Schabas, professor of law at Middlesex University, who is co-ordinating the letter, said: “There is fresh evidence that was not there in 2006.  A lot more has come to light since then. We think the 2006 decision was wrong and we want the [ICC] Prosecutor to look at it through a different lens.”  He believed there was enough evidence to pass the tests for an ICC inquiry to be launched – that there was systematic rather isolated abuse; the scale of the complaints cleared the “gravity” threshold and that the claims had not been properly investigated by the UK.  However, the Government will argue that these criteria have not been met.

The dossier names General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; Geoff Hoon, the former Defence Secretary and Adam Ingram, the former Armed Forces Minister, who did not respond for requests to comment. The complainants decided to name those responsible for the UK’s strategy in Iraq following the US-led invasion in 2003. But political and defence figures said the ICC was unlikely to hold them responsible for actions “on the ground.”

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said there was no “systematic” torture by troops and individual cases had either already been dealt with by the British authorities or were the subject of inquiries.

He told Sky News: “There have been some cases of abuse that have been acknowledged and apologies and compensation have been paid appropriately.  But the Government has always been clear and the armed forces have been clear that they absolutely reject allegations of systematic abuses by the British armed forces. The British armed forces uphold high standards and they are the finest armed forces in the world.“

Lord Goldsmith, who was Attorney General at the time of the invasion, said: “Although I’ve had concerns, I never saw evidence of systematic abuse, I never saw evidence for example – and that is what has surprised me today – that any senior politicians or even, for that matter, or even senior military figures were aware, let alone authorised this.  I think it is unfortunate that people who are out of office have these sorts of headlines against them so we’ll have to see.” 

Lord Dannatt, the former Head of the Army, was “very optimistic” the allegations would not be proven. He told Sky: “To suggest that this was a systemic, widespread, almost a matter of policy, I find that very hard to understand, very hard to accept and I would be very, very surprised if a case held up in somewhere like the ICC.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Manchester United's kit for the 2014/15 season
football
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
peopleNobel laureate was a powerful anti-Apartheid voice
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Marketing Comms / Digital Marketing Specialist

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role exists for a...

Search Engine Optimisation/ SEO Executive

£25000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Junior Professional Services Consultant - SQL, Implementation

£30000 - £40000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...

Electronics Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor