The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) has given The Sun its first reaction to Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) intending to cease operations at the end of the month following the withdrawal of their legal aid authorisation. An IHAT spokesperson told the newspaper on Monday:
“IHAT is only obliged to look at the credible allegations and will investigate if it is reasonable and proportionate to do so.
“The IHAT has already sifted out over 1500 allegations.
“In light of the legal aid agency’s decision and PIL’s closure IHAT is now considering very carefully whether this has any bearing on the credibility or otherwise of the remaining cases.
“It remains likely that of the very large number of allegations that have been made only a relatively small proportion will go on to require a full investigation.”
Latest IHAT figures
According to the latest IHAT quarterly update, as at the end of June 2016 it had received 3367 allegations of potential criminal behaviour. 1503 of these will not be pursued for a variety of reasons, such as duplication, not a criminal offence or not within jurisdiction.
192 are still in initial assessment, and 4 allegations received since the previous quarterly report had been returned to PIL with a request for a witness statement.
That leaves allegations relating to 1668 potential victims which IHAT is to consider, comprising 325 allegations of unlawful killing and 1343 other forms of alleged ill treatment, ranging from serious sexual assault to common assault.
Of these IHAT has closed or is in the process of closing 176 allegations, of which 90 were of unlawful killing. In 88 "unlawful killing" cases the allegation of criminal behaviour was not sustainable; one soldier was referred to the Director of Service Prosecutions with a view to prosecution ("DSP decided not to proceed"); and one case was referred to the RAF Police for further investigation.
86 of the "closed or closing" allegations were of ill-treatment. In 84 of these the allegation of criminal behaviour was "not sustainable". One soldier was referred to his Commanding Officer for disciplinary action, and was fined £3,000. Another soldier was referred to the Director of Service Prosecutions with a view to prosecution ("DSP decided not to proceed").
The remaining 1492 allegations are "subject to further work".
What this comes down to is that by the end of June, only ONE of the 3367 allegations examined by IHAT had resulted in any successful action against a current or former member of the armed forces, and more than half of the 3367 have already been thrown out.