Human rights lawyer Martyn Day vowed to ‘get back to doing the work we love’ after he and colleagues were cleared of wrongdoing at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after the SDT’s longest-ever hearing.
Day and colleagues Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther, as well as the firm Leigh Day itself, were found not to have committed misconduct in their handling of claims against the Ministry of Defence on behalf of Iraqis alleging mistreatment at the hands of British soldiers.
The verdicts followed seven weeks of what is almost certainly the most expensive hearing in the tribunal’s history. The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which brought the prosecution, may still appeal once the written ruling is published in August.
Day and his colleagues had been accused of failing to disclose in good time an Arabic document which cast doubt on the individuals making claims, destroying an English translation of that document, endorsing claims (which turned out to be false) against the army at a press conference and making unlawful referral arrangements. The tribunal concluded none of the charges had been proved to the necessary criminal standard.
Following the decision, Day said the tribunal had confirmed the firm’s view that no one had acted improperly or dishonestly in pursuing the claims.
‘For nearly 40 years I have battled on behalf of the ordinary man and woman in this country and abroad to ensure they get access to justice, not least when they face the might of British multinationals or government,’ he said. ‘I am very pleased that I and my colleagues can now get back to doing the work we love.’
Day thanked those within the legal profession and beyond who have supported the firm during the past two years.
A spokesperson for the MoD, which made the initial complaint against Leigh Day, said it was ‘disappointed’ but vowed to ‘continue to both vigorously defend any opportunistic claims when we believe they are false or exaggerated, and to bring any evidence of wrongdoing to the attention of supervising bodies’.
A costs hearing will take place later this year. Leigh Day’s costs were said to be £7m, while the SRA’s costs also run to seven figures.