Hilary Meredith has called for full disclosure of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) financial dealings with disgraced lawyer Phil Shiner and failed firm Public Interest Lawyers in relation to claims made against British troops.
Shiner was struck of the solicitors’ roll on 2 February by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The tribunal found him guilty of five counts of dishonesty relating to both his dealing with claims against British soldiers for alleged abuse of Iraqis, and his subsequent lack of full co-operation with the Solicitors Regulation Authority in relation to those claims.
Shiner, who previously admitted paying an Iraqi middleman to find claimants, was one of the key figures in the establishment of the £25m, five-year-long Al-Sweady inquiry. The inquiry eventually dismissed allegations against British troops and said they were based on calculated and deliberate lies by Iraqis.
Other claims put forward by Shiner and his firm, led investigations by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) into British troops. To date, IHAT has received 3390 allegations – but not one of them has led to a prosecution.
The SDT found that Shiner authorised Public Interest Lawyers to pay a third party in order for him to change his evidence to the Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations of atrocities in Iraq. He also tried to cover up the payment and alteration of evidence by fabricating emails dealing with the subject.
Speaking on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Meredith said: “Now is the time for full disclosure of the MoD’s financial dealings with Phil Shiner and Public Interest Lawyers.
“We already know that the MoD paid Shiner and his firm taxpayers’ money to bring fraudulent claims against our troops.
“This scandal goes to the very heart of the MoD and there remain a number of unanswered questions.”
The programme said that Shiner was the “the driving character behind the witch hunts against British troops” and the MP Jonny Mercer told viewers that “the MoD gave Phil Shiner the opportunity to abuse the process”.
Meredith told the MoD last year that soldiers hounded over incidents in the Iraq War are pressing ahead with plans to take the Ministry of Defence to court over the behaviour of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).