Harry denies branding Iraq abuse claims investigation 'a joke'


Prince Harry has denied a national newspaper report that he told friends an investigation into allegations of murder, abuse and torture of Iraqi civilians by UK military personnel is "a joke".

Harry's communications secretary, Jason Knauf, issued a strongly worded statement saying the Prince has not expressed a view to anyone about the work of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat).

The Sun has reported that Harry, who served as an Army officer for 10 years and was deployed twice to Afghanistan, is understood to be deeply concerned about the plight of military personnel being investigated by the body.

The national newspaper quotes a senior source as saying: "Harry is furious at the treatment of some British troops. He thinks the whole thing is a joke and is very concerned about the support these men and women are getting.

"He's frustrated he can't intervene, but knows he would get in trouble as it would be seen as political interference if he spoke out."

Harry has been supporting the nation's injured, sick and wounded servicemen and women and veterans through a number of projects including his Invictus Games, a Paralympics-style competition where many of those competing have lost limbs fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Knauf said: "The Sun front page carries a story claiming Prince Harry had told 'pals' that he had strong views about a government policy issue around prosecutions of soldiers.

"Prince Harry is passionate about work to support veterans and it will be a cause he champions for the rest of his life. He will always have been proud to have worn an Army uniform and knows first-hand the sacrifices servicemen and women make to protect their country.

"Prince Harry was painted positively by the paper in this story, but thinks it's only fair that people know the facts.

"He has not expressed views on this topic to anyone and he does not believe it would have been appropriate for a member of the Royal Family to have done so. This was very clearly communicated to The Sun prior to publication.

"Prince Harry does not comment on issues like this because to do so would actually undermine his ability to support veterans both in the UK and overseas."

Prime Minister Theresa May last month raised concerns over the ''industrial scale'' of claims lodged with Ihat, which has considered claims relating to more than 1,500 individuals, ranging from ill-treatment during detention to assault and death by shooting.

Some 326 cases have been settled, with the payment of around £20 million in compensation, but concerns have been raised about servicemen facing investigation even after having been cleared of wrongdoing by criminal courts.