Law firm that brought abuse claims against British troops banned from legal aid


A law firm behind discredited claims accusing British troops of carrying out atrocities in Iraq has been stripped of legal aid funding.

Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) will no longer receive public money after being considered by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) to have breached contractual requirements.

It took the decision after reviewing information submitted by the firm, following a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) investigation.

In a statement the LAA said: "The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has no role in judging the issues of professional conduct involved in the allegations.

"However, we are clear that contractual breaches with LAA's contract are proven and warrant investigation by the relevant authorities.

"LAA will carefully consider any application to transfer representation to a new firm in accordance with the relevant criteria."

In 2014 the £31 million Al-Sweady inquiry concluded in its final report that allegations of war crimes following the Battle of Danny Boy on May 14 2004 in southern Iraq were based on "deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility".

PIL had submitted hundreds of allegations of misconduct and unlawful killing by British troops.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "We've seen our legal system abused to falsely impugn our Armed Forces. Now we are seeing justice done.

"Every day, our servicemen and women show bravery and dedication in difficult circumstances. They shouldn't be subject to unfounded legal claims.

"We are working on a package of measures that, alongside this ruling, will ensure they aren't."

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said the purpose of legal aid was to support some of the most vulnerable members of society "not to pursue spurious cases against our brave Armed Forces as they serve this country overseas".

She added: "The investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has unearthed some very serious allegations and it will now be for the relevant authorities to decide whether further investigations are required.

"But I am determined that public money should not be misused or wasted and I will not tolerate any abuse of the legal aid rules that are so vital to the proper functioning of our justice system."