Iraq inquiry detectives claim they were ignored over 'fraud' concerns

Three former detectives say they repeatedly raised concerns about the risk of false abuse claims against Iraq war veterans.

But the senior police officers who worked on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) said their warnings were ignored for years.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, the unnamed ex-detectives said they also highlighted the possibility of fraudulent payments made to Iraqis working for disgraced solicitor Phil Shiner.

One of the former detectives who raised issues about lengthy investigations and payments to witnesses and lawyers, claims a senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) official told him "don't worry about it. Think about the money [you are getting]", the paper reports.

Another of the high-ranking detectives said: "We told the Ihat management of our concerns about all these payments to supposed witnesses and victims as long ago as 2013.

"They ... continued to pay the agents hundreds of thousands of pounds until this whole thing finally blew up.

A number of retired police detectives were hired by MoD funded Ihat to investigate thousands of complaints.

The majority were brought by Mr Shiner who was then the boss of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL).

In February last year, Mr Shiner was struck off the roll of solicitors after a string of misconduct and dishonesty charges over his actions relating to the Al-Sweady Inquiry were found proved by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

The ex-detectives recommended the MoD stop paying Mr Shiner and his Iraqi fixers Mazin Younis and Abu Jamal, in favour of using independent investigators.

They raised concerns that the evidence being gathered had the potential to be tainted due to the payments and alleged lack of oversight of them.

The documents, seen by The Telegraph, show tens of thousands of pounds was paid to Mr Younis, an Iraqi businessman based in Manchester. In an official memo, one ex-detective wrote: "I was uncomfortable with using PIL for these important evidence-gathering mechanisms.

"My strong belief was that PIL agents collecting evidence for Ihat was a clear conflict of interest."

Mr Younis has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he had worked for two years without any complaints and that Ihat has been closed so cannot answer.

The Government wound down Ihat in the wake of disciplinary action against Mr Shiner.

An MoD spokesperson said: "It's totally wrong for people to exaggerate or make up allegations against our brave troops.

"This causes unnecessary distress for our soldiers and their families, and anyone responsible for false claims should be ashamed.

"Credible claims should be and are investigated, but false allegations make it harder for justice to be served."

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