The Defence Committee has heavily criticised the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) for costing the taxpayer £60 million and not making a single conviction.
In its Ninth Special Report of Session 2016–17, Who guards the guardians? MoD support for former and serving personnel: Government Response to the Committee’s Sixth Report the Committee said that the IHAT’s actions have put the lives of soldiers on hold because of allegations made against them – in many cases without any credible supporting evidence. The report adds that the effects of this on the British military are “profound and enduring” and that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) must take responsibility for creating an environment in which the generation of cases, with little or no supporting evidence, was able to occur.
The Defence Committee has also said that the MoD’s package of support for service personnel is “fragmented, inaccessible and largely unknown”. It says the MoD must, as a priority, devise and publish a single, accessible framework which sets out the MoD’s responsibilities and the support that soldiers and veterans can expect to receive. That framework must be widely publicised and understood throughout the chain of command.
Hilary Meredith, who has long campaigned for the MoD to provide a framework of support for servicemen and women facing judicial process, said: “It has been a long, hard battle but this report backs our call for the MoD to support servicemen and women facing judicial process with a framework of support.
“The MoD must now act with immediate effect. They simply cannot pay lip service anymore. It is time to right the wrongs.”
Meredith has been instructed by clients subject to judicial process and had started the process of bringing a Judicial Review against the MoD over the issue. She had also met with the Government legal department. She is representing a decorated major who faces prosecution for manslaughter over the death of an Iraqi teenager 13 years ago. She also provided evidence at the Defence Sub Committee’s inquiry into the support offered by the MoD.