Embattled human rights lawyer Phil Shiner is to face a public hearing after all at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, according to newspaper reports this morning.
The Daily Mail and The Sun reported that they had succeeded in lifting an anonymity order which prevented reporting of any hearings or even the charges Shiner faces. Reporting restrictions were even extended to cover the reasons for Shiner remaining anonymous.
However under the headline 'Your turn, Sun-Shiner' The Sun states today that 'shamed "tank-chaser" Phil Shiner has dropped his demand for a secret hearing into allegations he smeared British troops'. The Mail describes the decision as 'a victory for open justice'.
The newspapers had mounted a legal challenge to bring Shiner’s prosecution at the hands of the Solicitors Regulation Authority into the public domain.
But the details of allegations Shiner faces will not be released until a case management hearing has formally lifted the anonymity order. This is expected within weeks, and the Mail suggests Shiner’s substantive hearing will last six weeks, although neither the SRA or the SDT was able to confirm any details.
Shiner’s firm, Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, has brought claims against British armed forces on behalf of Iraqi civilians but these claims were dismissed following the Al-Sweady inquiry, which looked into allegations of murder and torture.
The issue of Shiner remaining anonymous was debated in the Commons in September, when Canterbury MP Julian Brazier accused him of ‘trying to conceal ill-gotten gains by threatening those editors who are threatening to expose him with recourse to the Independent Press Standards Organisation on the basis of so-called mental health problems’.
Public Interest Lawyers closed on 31 August a few weeks after the Legal Aid Agency terminated its legal aid contract. Shiner has denied any wrongdoing.