Phil Shiner’s Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) made its name by suing the Government at the taxpayer’s expense
Detectives who probed allegations of abuse against Iraq veterans regularly warned bosses of fraudulent claims – but were ignored, it was reported last night.
They are believed to have raised concerns about disgraced lawyer Phil Shiner four years before the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) was closed.
Mr Shiner’s Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) made its name by suing the Government at the taxpayer’s expense. But he was later struck off when it was revealed many of the allegations of criminality by British troops in Iraq handed over by PIL have been thrown out.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, three former detectives stated.they were not happy using PIL, but Ihat bosses continued to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds. One officer told the paper: ‘We told the Ihat management of our concerns about all these payments to supposed witnesses and victims as long ago as 2013.
‘They… continued to pay the agents hundreds of thousands of pounds until this whole thing finally blew up. We couldn’t understand how there were thousands of cases. It didn’t make any sense.’
Another detective stated.they were ‘uncomfortable’ using PIL, while one officer claims to have been told to ‘think about the money’ they would be receiving.
British soldiers in Iraq in 2007. Claims against British forces were found to be ‘without merit’
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team was set up in 2010 to investigate claims of abuse. Over seven years, 3,500 claims were made, costing the taxpayer £60million. Not one has resulted in prosecution.
The organisation was shut down in 2017 and was declared ‘unfit for purpose’ by MPs.
Phil Shiner’s fixer Mazin Younis was handed £500 for each Iraqi he persuaded to accuse soldiers of committing murder or torture, according to a 2017 hearing. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Shiner, 61, once named solicitor of the year, was found guilty of professional misconduct in February last year for his role in drumming up cases against troops.
The human rights lawyer, who made his name suing the Government at the taxpayer’s expense, was found to have been repeatedly dishonest in falsely accusing soldiers of war crimes.
Tory MP Johnny Mercer, a former soldier, criticised the Ministry of Defence, saying: ‘This nation’s genuinely brave and best are being completely taken advantage of.’
Phil Shiner’s fixer Mazin Younis (right) was handed £500 for each Iraqi he persuaded to accuse soldiers of committing murder or torture, according to a 2017 hearing
First pride, then a fall from grace: Lawyer who spearheaded claims
He once boasted that he had not ‘accepted a single case that turned out to be a try-on’.
But in a spectacular fall from grace, human rights lawyer Phil Shiner, 61, was struck off the roll of solicitors last February for a string of misconduct charges.
The father of five set up his Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) in 1999 and led it until it was closed down in August 2016.
In 2007, at the height of his career, he was named the Law Society’s solicitor of the year.
He continued to make his name by suing the Government at the taxpayer’s expense. His firm handed over hundreds of allegations of criminality by British troops in Iraq, many of which have been thrown out.
The beginnings of his downfall were marked by a news conference in February 2008 that paved the way for the £25million Al-Sweady inquiry. Mr Shiner alleged that the Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated innocent Iraqi civilians during a clash known as the ‘Battle of Danny Boy’ in 2004.
But in December 2014 the judge leading the public inquiry concluded the allegations were ‘wholly and entirely without merit’.
The Ministry of Defence then passed a damning dossier on PIL to the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA), which started an investigation.
In April 2016 the SRA concluded its inquiry and Mr Shiner was referred to a disciplinary tribunal over ‘serious allegations of professional misconduct’.
In August that year, his legal aid was pulled by the Government, forcing him to shut down his firm. In February 2017 he was struck off after being found guilty of professional misconduct.