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'Insufficient evidence' on unlawful killings claim

Lawyers representing families of dead Iraqis admitted there was "insufficient evidence" to back their claims British soldiers unlawfully killed civilians nearly a decade ago.

From the outset the families have had the simple objective of discovering the extent of any wrongdoing and, if so, how it came about and who was responsible.

It is accepted that, on the material which has been disclosed to date, there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of unlawful killing in Camp Abu Naji.

– John Dickinson, of Public Interest Lawyers

The Iraqi core participants will not submit that, on the balance of probabilities, live Iraqis captured in the course of the battle died or were killed at Camp Abu Naji.

– Patrick O'Connor QC confirming PIL's position to inquiry

However, PIL said there were still allegations of mistreatment of prisoners for the inquiry to consider.

The Al-Sweady Inquiry is examining allegations British troops mistreated and killed 20 or more Iraqi detainees after the Battle of Danny Boy in May 2004. The MoD has vigorously denied the claims, saying any deaths occurred on the battlefield.

Families drop claims of unlawful killings against troops

Claims that British troops unlawfully killed Iraqis a decade ago have been dropped by the families of the deceased who admitted there was "insufficient evidence."

Families have dropped claims that British soldiers unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

On the last full day of evidence at the year-long Al-Sweady Inquiry, Public Interest Lawyers, who are representing the families of the deceased, said there had been "insufficient evidence" to back their allegations that civilians were killed while in British troops' custody in May 2004.

PIL said it came to the decision after the end of military evidence and "the current state of disclosure by the Ministry of Defence".

The inquiry has heard evidence from hundreds of witnesses both here and abroad, at a cost of more than £22 million.


Unlawful killing claims against UK troops are dropped

Allegations British soldiers unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians a decade ago are not supported by evidence heard by a public inquiry investigating their deaths, a lawyer acting for the families of the dead told the Al-Sweady Inquiry in London today.

The inquiry has been examining claims that UK soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis, and tortured detainees after the "Battle of Danny Boy" in Maysan Province, southern Iraq, in May 2004.

Hammond: Must be shift in balance of defence spending

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has accused a committee of MPs of failing to recognise the need to counter evolving threats, such as potential cyber-attacks, meant there had to be a shift in the balance of defence spending.

Mr Hammond said:

It is not possible to maintain traditional regular forces at historic levels while also investing in countering the threats of tomorrow.

The Army 2020 structure is not simply about a reduction in size; it is a complete overhaul of how the Army works to deliver a fully-integrated force, using a better mix of regulars, reserves and contractors to get the maximum defence effect from the budget.

Further Army cuts 'would unravel defence plans'

An influential group of MPs has warned that if ministers attempt to make any further cuts, the whole Army 2020 plan would "unravel" completely.

Under the plan, the size of the regular Army is being slashed from 102,000 troops to 82,000 while the numbers of part time reservists will expand to 30,000 by 2018.

The regular Army is being slashed from 102,000 troops to 82,000 under the plan. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

In a hard-hitting report, the Commons Defence Committee said the rationale for the plan remained untested while the "high level of change" involved - at a time when troops were still engaged in Afghanistan - could "compromise" its ability to respond to emergencies.

It complained at the "apparent lack of consultation and involvement" of the head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall, who was simply told by the senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence what the future strength of the Army would be.

MPs warn Army cuts 'have not been thought through'

Government cuts to the Army have not been thought through and could leave Britain dangerously exposed in the event of a future crisis, MPs have warned.

The Commons Defence Committee has issued the warning. Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The Commons Defence Committee said the restructuring progamme - known as the Army 2020 plan - was driven by the need to fit a "financial envelope" rather than a proper assessment of potential threats.

It has urged the Ministry of Defence to draw up contingency plans for a rapid recruitment programme in case there was urgent need for more troops to deal with an emergency.


Over 1,600 military help with flood relief effort

Over 1,600 servicemen and women have helped with the flood relief effort today across the UK, the Ministry of Defence said.

Members of the Army help residents with sandbags in Egham, Surrey. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

A statement said: "Today, military personnel continued to provide flood relief in affected parts of the UK.

"More than 1,600 servicemen and women have been committed to tasks including assisting residents, as well as filling and distributing sandbags in six different locations in the Thames Valley."

The statement added that 100 personnel carried out sandbagging and humanitarian duties in Wraysbury, 100 Royal Marines assisting people in The Somerset Levels and more than 2,000 staff on "high readiness ready to respond to short notice requests."

MoD facing legal action over alleged bullying

An ex-private says he attempted suicide several times after his complains about being bullied were ignored by the army.

Joseph McCabe is taking civil legal action against the Ministry of Defence for its alleged failure to act, the BBC reported, as well as appealing against a decision to deny him financial compensation. He said:

I'm still having nightmares, I'm still having flashbacks. If I could I would lock myself up in a box and just hide away. But if I do that it's like I'm letting those people in the Army win so I have forced myself to take up a new career, to rebuild my life.

He said that he received death threats and was stabbed in the leg at the height of constant abuse centred on his stutter but that officers laughed off the threats and no-one was punished. The Ministry of Defence responded:

Whilst we can't comment on individual cases, we can be clear that the armed forces have a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of bullying, discrimination and abuse.

All allegations will be fully investigated either by the civil or the military police and appropriate action will be taken.

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