New Iraq War inquiry set to open

 


The Iraq War will continue to cast a shadow over Britain in 2012, with one major public inquiry into the conflict reporting its findings and another due to begin.

Campaigning lawyers are also seeking a further two inquiries with wide-ranging remits to investigate allegations that UK forces abused and unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians while they controlled parts of southern Iraq.

British troops ended combat operations in Iraq in April 2009 after a war that lasted over six years, claimed the lives of 179 UK personnel and cost more than £9 billion.

The overarching Iraq Inquiry, chaired by retired senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot, has delayed publication of its final report into how Britain came to join the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and the conduct of the conflict.

The inquiry issued a statement in November saying it would need at least until the summer of 2012 to complete its massive task, citing the difficulties of declassifying secret Government papers to quote in the long-awaited report.

Sir John and his panel focused on the decisions made by top politicians and officials, hearing evidence from ministers, diplomats, spymasters and military commanders.

They are widely predicted to be scathing about the way former prime minister Tony Blair led the country into war despite serious questions about the legality of military action.

Meanwhile, another public inquiry is set to get under way in 2012 after being held up by the logistical difficulties of assembling evidence.

The Al-Sweady Inquiry is examining claims that UK soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis and tortured others after the "Battle of Danny Boy" in Maysan Province, southern Iraq, in May 2004.

The Ministry of Defence vigorously denies the allegations and says those who died were killed on the battlefield.

The inquiry has appointed a team of retired British detectives to investigate what happened from scratch after an earlier Royal Military Police inquiry was judged to be inadequate.

Solicitor Phil Shiner, who represents the alleged Iraqi victims, expects there will be further delays before counsel to the inquiry, Jonathan Acton Davis QC, makes his opening statement about the evidence in the case.

He said: "There is no sign of it opening because we have found hundreds of thousands of relevant documents, in particular all the emails from theatre (in Iraq) back to PJHQ (the military's Permanent Joint Headquarters) and they have got to go through all of that.

"I won't be surprised if the oral hearings in the Al-Sweady Inquiry don't start until the summer."

One public inquiry into Britain's involvement in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 - covering the brutal death of father-of-two Baha Mousa at the hands of British soldiers in Basra, southern Iraq, in September 2003 - has already released its report.

Mr Shiner, from Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, is behind attempts to force the Government to hold two further inquiries into other allegations against UK troops.

More than 100 Iraqi civilians who say they were abused by UK forces between March 2003 and December 2008 won a legal battle at the Court of Appeal in November that they hope will lead to a detailed investigation into their claims.

The MoD argued there was no need for the inquiry into the UK's detention policy in south-eastern Iraq because it has set up the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) to look into the accusations.

But three appeal judges ruled that IHAT, made up of civilian investigators and members of the Royal Military Police, lacked "the requisite independence".

The MoD is seeking permission to take the case - referred to as "Ali Zaki Mousa" after the lead claimant - to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

But Mr Shiner predicts this move will fail, adding: "Sooner or later there will be that third inquiry (into abuse allegations)."

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "We contested the application for a single public inquiry into allegations that Iraqi civilians were abused by British soldiers in Iraq and our view remains that a public inquiry is not necessary or appropriate at this time.

"A costly public inquiry would be unable to investigate individual criminal behaviour or impose punishments. Any such inquiry would arguably therefore not be in the best interests of the individual complainants who have raised these allegations.

"The MoD has set up the dedicated Iraq Historic Allegations Team to investigate these allegations to establish their truth or otherwise, identify any action that needs to be taken and, should it uncover criminal behaviour, provide the proper means to deal with it.

"The Court of Appeal did not order an immediate public inquiry but we are carefully considering the judgment they made and remain committed to investigating the allegations fully."

Mr Shiner also plans to petition the Supreme Court to revise a June 2007 Law Lords ruling in the light of a recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment with the aim of bringing about another inquiry into alleged unlawful killings of Iraqis by British troops.

In July the Strasbourg-based ECHR's grand chamber dismissed claims by the British Government that UK forces were not governed by Europe's human rights convention in Iraq because they were beyond its jurisdiction.

The case - named after Hazim Al-Skeini, who was shot dead by a British soldier in the street in Basra in August 2003 - focuses on the deaths of six Iraqis during the UK occupation of south-eastern Iraq between May 2003 and June 2004.

Mr Shiner said: "We will be going back to the Supreme Court saying, 'here's the grand chamber judgment'.

"In doing so, we will get an inquiry into the unlawful killings in Iraq, of which there could be hundreds if not thousands."

The solicitor has also asked Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC to consider bringing charges against 25 former and serving members of the British armed forces over Mr Mousa's death.

PA

Suggested Topics
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sport LIVEFollow the latest news and scores from today's Premier League as Liverpool make a blistering start against Norwich
VIDEO
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLESir Cliff Richard has used a candid appearance on an Australian talk show to address long-running speculation about his sexuality

Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull

Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top-four finish with a straightforward 3-0 win over Hull City.

Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
arts + ents Samuel L Jackson and Michael Madsen have taken part in a reading of Quentin Tarantino’s axed follow-up to Django Unchained.
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport Hamilton captured his third straight Formula One race with ease on Sunday, leading from start to finish to win the Chinese Grand Prix

Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
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 iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit