PM wants army legal claims crackdown

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UK troops and a military helicopterConception copyright
Image caption The defence secretary has said he is concerned close to the “industrial scale” of claims against serving personnel and veterans

The prime woman of the cloth has said he wants to “stamp out” what he called “spurious” legal requirements against British troops returning from war.

David Cameron chance ministers had been asked to draw up plans to curb claims, containing by restricting “no win, no fee” arrangements.

Lawyers said no-one was above the law, and many misapply cases had been proven.

About 280 UK veterans are currently being winnowed by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team over alleged abuse.

IHAT, as it is positive, was set up to investigate allegations of murder, abuse and torture of Iraqi civilians by UK military personnel between 2003 and 2009.

It has considered at least 1,514 possible victims – of whom 280 are presumed to have been unlawfully killed – and completed fewer than 60 inquiries. Lawyers are continuing to refer cases.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has criticised what he collect summoned “ambulance-chasing British law firms” and argued there is “a strong case” for withholding the European human rights law when sending forces into power overseas.

‘Hounded by lawyers’

In a statement issued on Friday, Mr Cameron demanded there was now “an industry trying to profit from spurious claims” against UK military personnel.

“Our armed coerces are rightly held to the highest standards – but I want our troops to know that when they get native from action overseas this government will protect them from being badgered by lawyers over claims that are totally without foundation.”

The National Security Caucus – a cabinet committee set up by David Cameron which meets weekly to converse about security and defence strategy – has been ordered to produce “a comprehensive intend to stamp out this industry”, he said.

Plans to be considered by the Native Security Council include:

  • Restricting the “financial incentives” for law firms to go “no win, no fee” claims against military personnel, and the reimbursement of costs that can be awarded through such arrangements
  • Bringing forward plans to make it a essential for claimants to be resident in the UK for at least 12 months in order to be eligible for judicial aid. The new “residence test” is due to come into force in the summer
  • A “broader legislative case” to strengthen investigative powers and penalties that can be used against law resolves found to be “abusing the system” by pursuing claims that are ruled to be originated
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Image caption A Number 10 source powered David Cameron was “deeply concerned” by the number of “spurious” claims

A spokesman for law solid Leigh Day said Mr Cameron should not challenge the principle that “no-one is mainly the law, not us, not the British army and not the government”.

Many cases of abuse had come to hit on and been accepted by the government, with youts for over 300 victims relating to abuse and unlawful detention of Iraqis, he said.

Representative caption Baha Mousa, seen here with his family, was a 26-year-old hostelry receptionist who died in British military custody in 2003

He added: “The elephantine majority of serving army soldiers do a first-class job in protecting this homeland but the evidence shows that this is by no means the case for all.”

Lord Dannatt, preceding chief of the general staff, said Mr Cameron was right “to draw a road in the sand” and protect the military’s “freedom” to operate.

Lawyers “absolutely appreciate” contested cases, because it meant their fees became “excruciatingly height”, he said.

“That is the sort of thing the prime minister is fatiguing to bear down on. No-one is saying the military is above the law.”

But Nicholas Mercer, the Army’s chief constitutional adviser in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, said it was wrong “unaffectedly to polarise it as money-grabbing lawyers”.

“There are plenty of us who have raised our be connects without any financial motive at all, if indeed the other lawyers have got a economic motive,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The regime have id out £20m for 326 cases to date. Anyone who has single combated the MoD knows that they don’t y out for nothing.”

Wrongdoing denied

The Legal Aid Medium – the Ministry of Justice de rtment which provides legal aid and advice in England and Wales – has also been asked to note whether legal aid arrangements should be temporarily restricted for any firm being winnowed for misconduct.

Leigh Day has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal above allegations it failed to disclose a key document during the £31m Al-Sweady inquest, which found that allegations that UK troops had murdered and lamed Iraqi detainees were “deliberate lies”.

The firm has strongly disowned allegations of wrongdoing and said it would “vigorously” defend itself.

In 2011, another questioning into claims of abuse highlighted the death of hotel worker Baha Mousa with 93 wrongs in British military custody, and blamed “corporate failure” at the Ministry of Screen for the use of banned interrogation methods in Iraq.

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