Lawyer Phil Shiner struck off after misconduct findings over Iraq War claims

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Iraq abuse statement

A controversial human rights lawyer has been struck off after being found to have acted dishonestly in bringing murder and torture claims against British Iraq War veterans.

Phil Shiner, a solicitor who worked for the now-defunct Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), had 12 charges of misconduct found proved against him by a panel of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

In five charges he was found to have acted dishonestly, including agreeing to pay "sweeteners" to a fixer, understood to be Abu Jamal, to persuade him to change his evidence to the £31 million Al-Sweady Inquiry.

Mr Shiner previously admitted nine allegations of acting without integrity, including that he made "unsolicited direct approaches" to potential clients.

He did not attend the hearing, having written to the tribunal to say he was unwell and could not afford to pay for a defence lawyer.

Mr Shiner was struck off the roll of solicitors.

The tribunal heard in December the lawyer accepted he would be struck off as a result of the case, thought to be one of the most expensive ever brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Nicola Lucking, chairwoman of the panel, said: "We have come to the conclusion the appropriate sanction is a strike off."

The hearing finished earlier than expected as a result of Mr Shiner's absence and Andrew Tabachnik, representing the SRA, accused him of being "in a state of avoidance" to prevent proceedings from going ahead in full.

The tribunal heard the effects of his involvement on British military personnel in "cold-calling" the family members of alleged Iraqi victims.

Army Colonel James Coote, who was a major stationed in Basra, said the false claims made against British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004 had been "extremely stressful and demoralising".

Mr Shiner had admitted acting recklessly by claiming at a press conference in February 2008 that the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians during the Iraq War battle.

Mr Shiner agreed to pay Jamal, named only as "Z" in SRA papers, thousands of pounds for referrals, which is prohibited.

As a team leader at PIL, Mr Shiner authorised and procured payments and fee-sharing agreements with the agent between 2007 and 2010.

One of those payments was for £25,000 on March 30 2009, which he admitted but had denied related to a publicly funded case as the SRA alleged.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: "Justice has finally been served after we took the unprecedented step of submitting evidence on his abuse of our legal system.

"Phil Shiner made soldiers' lives a misery by pursuing false claims of torture and murder - now he should apologise. We will study any implications for outstanding legal claims closely."

The tribunal found that emails sent by Mr Shiner regarding his "agent" in Basra were dishonest as they "did not disclose the real reason" for his agreement with Jamal.

Mr Tabachnik said Mr Shiner denied it on the basis that he was under such stress he was "not responsible" for his actions.

Mr Tabachnik said: "The defence to the dishonesty aspect is effectively, 'I was not in full control of my mental faculties at this time and I didn't know right from wrong and what I am doing'."

Two of the allegations Mr Shiner denied, that he misled the inquiry by failing to make full disclosures and also the Legal Services Commission over legal aid grants, were found proved on the basis of the majority of the particulars the SRA put.

The panel ordered him to pay interim costs of £250,000, with a full means test to determine further costs to follow.

The lawyer, who takes the title professor, came to public attention when he represented the Iraqi family of Baha Mousa, who was beaten to death by British soldiers.

He has launched many other high-profile legal actions against the Ministry of Defence relating to alleged human rights abuses involving UK armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His firm PIL brought forward the majority of allegations (2,470) considered by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat).

PIL, of which Mr Shiner was sole director and 100% shareholder, closed down in August after being stripped of legal aid funding for breaching contractual requirements.

Mr Tabachnik said: "That has not been put into liquidation or any other comparable form of administration."

Mr Shiner's former colleague at PIL, John Dickinson, denied a single charge of misconduct but this was found proved and he was given a reprimand and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.