Army veterans pursued for years over allegations of war crimes have begun legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence and the lawyers who led the claims.
Retired former army officer Major Robert Campbell is heading the action by around 30 ex-service personnel and says that his life was ruined by the bogus charges.
Campbell was accused of drowning an Iraqi man in Basra in 2003 but the charges were later thrown out as a judge said the claims were based on lies and collusion.
The veterans’ action, led by north west firm Hilary Meredith Solicitors, comes at a time when the claims of Iraqi civilians against the MoD are back in the spotlight. This evening, BBC Two will broadcast Danny Boy, featuring the story of a former soldier and his battle to clear his name following claims of wrongdoing brought by ex-solicitor Phil Shiner and his firm Public Interest Lawyers.
The Campbell case is against the MoD and Shiner’s professional indemnity insurers, as his firm has since collapsed and Shiner himself has been struck off for dishonesty in relation to the public inquiry looking into the Iraqi claims. Hilary Meredith said letters of claims are being sent this month and a crowdfunding appeal is underway aiming to raise £10,000 to cover court fees.
Campbell, who received four bravery awards during his military career in bomb disposal, said he was discharged in 2018 and is unable to work, suffering from acute PTSD due to his operational service and the legal trauma he was put through. He said the MoD ‘abandoned’ its service personnel and chose to expose them to legal jeopardy for years despite two key Iraqi witnesses being exposed as liars back in 2006.
‘We have all been broken by this appalling process and as a result, all of my innocent soldiers were driven from the army and have received treatment for mental health conditions,’ said Campbell. ‘This was on top of the violence of our operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of blameless soldiers have been abandoned by the army on false allegations by Phil Shiner, and no-one has ever received any acknowledgement or apology.’
Meredith said the investigation into historic allegations was a ‘witch hunt based on deceit’ and that the MoD had breached the duty of care it owed to service personnel and veterans. She claimed that Shiner was ‘encouraged’ by the MoD and made soldiers’ lives a misery by pursuing false claims of torture and murder.
She added: ‘They allowed IHAT to pursue innocent troops with false evidence of vile war crimes. The falsely accused have paid a huge price - shattered lives, broken marriages, ruined finances, stalled careers, poor mental and physical health.’
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