Sunday, July 21, 2024

The Government has published the report by former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir David Calvert-Smith, who was commissioned in April 2016 to carry out a review of the systems in place at the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) for receving and processing allegations through to the ultimate decision as to whether to recommend prosecution.

His report said that "The reality is that the vast majority of the claims are generated by PIL" - i.e. Public Interest Lawyers, the Birmingham-based firm, founded by Phil Shiner, which recently ceased trading following the reported loss of its legal aid contract.

Sir David found that "The quality of the information supplied has often been very poor - sparse, often inaccurate as to identities, dates, times etc, and set out simply as a short unsigned narrative more or less accurately translated from the original." These comments are in line with a court ruling in April.

Where investigating officers had been able to interview witnesses then "frequently, direct contact with the witness has revealed that there were serious inaccuracies in the account presented to the IHAT by legal representatives such as to render further investigation unnecessary."

Sir David Calvert-Smith praised the quality of key staff at IHAT, but identified a need for improved supervision of staff engaged on a contract basis. He made a number of recommendations for simplifying and speeding up aspects of the process. His review, which BAFF is studying further, is published here: Review of Iraq Historic Allegations Team.

Separately, the House of Commons Defence Committee, as part of its inquiry into MoD support for serving and former personnel subject to judicial processes, took evidence yesterday from the Group Managing Director of the Red Snapper Group which supplies contract staff for IHAT.

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