David Cameron 'was overruled when he wanted to end Iraq abuse probes'

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David Cameron wanted to shut down controversial investigations of murder, abuse and torture by British soldiers in Iraq but was overruled by the Attorney General, an MP has claimed.

Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, of the Commons Defence Committee and a former Army officer, said the former prime minister told him he wanted to shut down the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) but the move was vetoed by Jeremy Wright.

His comments came after the Sunday Telegraph reported that three servicemen cleared over an Iraqi teenager's death may be prosecuted.

The group, one of whom is a decorated major, have been warned they could be tried for manslaughter of a 19-year-old who drowned in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

A military investigation into the death in 2006 cleared the soldiers, two of whom are still serving, of wrongdoing.

The revelations sparked fresh calls for IHAT to be shut down and Mr Mercer told the Daily Telegraph: "I went to see the then prime minister in March and he told me he wanted to shut it down but he had been ordered by the Attorney General that he couldn't."

The Government-established criminal investigation into murder, abuse and torture claims linked to the six-year military mission has recently come under fire for its handling of some of the approximately 1,500 allegations it has received.

Concerns have been raised over the "industrial scale" of claims being lodged with IHAT supported by the legal aid system.

The Government has defended the existence of IHAT and said the armed forces should be held to the "highest standards"

A spokeswoman said: "We've seen our legal system abused to falsely impugn our armed forces and we are putting an end to that.

"Equally, our armed forces are rightly held to the highest standards and, whilst rare, where there are credible claims of criminal behaviour, we should investigate them. Stamping out the many spurious claims will mean IHAT is better able to focus on the few credible ones."