Leigh Day has responded to the Government’s decision to “end” claims against British servicemen and women by telling the Prime Minister that no-one is “above the law”.
The firm was singled out by David Cameron in the House of Commons last week as being part of what he called “an industry trying to profit from spurious claims lodged against our brave servicemen and women who fought in Iraq”. Defending its position, Leigh Day said that the UK has a system that enables people to obtain justice if they have suffered abuse, damage or loss at the hands of anyone – and that it needed to be defended.
Leigh Day has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over allegations that witnesses gave false evidence in the Al-Sweady inquiry, where many claims fell apart. The Prime Minister said that the firm had questions to answer over the case.
In response, Leigh Day said that refuted all the allegations. “We will contest those allegations vigorously before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Our statement in relation to these allegations is on our website and we are unable to comment further.”
In a statement on 22 January, Cameron said that the actions of firms such as Leigh Day were “unacceptable” and “no way to treat the people who risk their lives to keep our country safe”.
“The National Security Council will produce a comprehensive plan to stamp out this industry, including proposals to clamp down on no win, no fee schemes used by law firms, speeding up the planned legal aid residence test, and strengthening investigative powers and penalties against firms found to be abusing the system. We will also take firm action against any firms found to have abused the system in the past to pursue fabricated claims,” said the statement.
It added that the UK’s troops had to know that when they get home from action overseas that the Government would protect them from being “hounded by lawyers over claims that are totally without foundation”.
Leigh Day reacted to the statement by saying: “Over the last twelve years many cases of abuse made against the MoD during the course of the occupation of Iraq have come to light and been accepted by the Government. They include the appalling torture and murder of Baha Mousa in 2003. In addition, the Government has paid compensation for over 300 other cases relating to abuse and unlawful detention of Iraqis.
“The vast majority of serving army soldiers do a first class job in protecting this country but the evidence shows that this is by no means the case for all,” it added.