Part of the propaganda campaign against the Iraq war was the claim that coalition troops were torturing captured Iraqis. Those claims made a pretty big splash in the United States, and probably even a bigger one in Europe. Now it turns out that large numbers of Iraqis may have been paid by British lawyers to make false claims of torture:
One of the country’s leading human-rights lawyers faces a criminal inquiry into claims Iraqi civilians were bribed to bring abuse claims against British soldiers, The Telegraph can reveal.
Phil Shiner is accused by legal regulators of knowing about the bribes which were allegedly disguised as expenses and then submitted as legal aid claims funded by the taxpayer.
Shiner became wealthy (the Telegraph says he “made his career”) by representing more than 1,000 Iraqis who said they were abused by British soldiers. The British government paid out millions of pounds to settle those claims, and Mr. Shiner’s firm (“Public Interest Lawyers”) was paid 3 million pounds by the Legal Aid Agency.
[F]ollowing the Al Sweady inquiry – which found that some Iraqi witnesses had lied about murder and torture allegedly committed by British troops – the methods of the law firms have been thrown into doubt.
On Tuesday, the Legal Aid Agency, after its own 18-month investigation, stripped PIL of its access to public money, preventing it bringing any more legally aided cases.
But now the agency has revealed it has been in contact with the National Crime Agency, which has a duty to investigate serious and organised crime.
The Legal Aid Agency told The Telegraph that “in our view the action PIL was taking could be criminal”.
A source claimed: “Evidence exists showing that Professor Shiner was aware of ‘disguised bribes’ being paid in relation to publicly funded matters.”
Mr. Shiner, of course, has been much honored, as well as enriched, for his work on behalf of Iraqi insurgents. Whatever punishment may now be meted out, justice will come much too late for thousands of British soldiers whose careers and lives were ruined by false accusations.