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Iraqi detainees lied about abuse at hands of UK soldiers

Claims from nine Iraqi detainees that British soldiers tortured, mutilated and murdered fellow insurgents in 2004 are all lies, a judge said today - but only after a public inquiry that cost taxpayers more than £30 million.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports.

Inquiry findings 'put baseless accusations to rest'

The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has told the House of Commons that today's Al-Sweady inquiry findings "puts to rest once and for all these shocking and completely baseless accusations".

"I accept Sir Thayne [Forbes]'s conclusion that some instances of ill-treatment did occur," he said.

Mr Fallon added that he accepted all nine of Sir Thayne's recommendations and has commissioned "urgent" work on their practical implications.

He said that the Iraqi detainees and their counsel must now "bear the brunt" of the criticism of the "protracted nature and the £31 million cost of this unnecessary public inquiry".

Lawyers for the detainees should issue an "unequivocal" apology to the soldiers, he said.


How British soldiers ill-treated Iraqi detainees

The Al-Sweady inquiry has found that British troops ill-treated nine Iraqi detainees following the Battle of Danny Boy on May 14 2004, near Al Amarah in southern Iraq.

How the Iraqi detainees were ill-treated during questioning:

  • Removal of each detainee's sight restriction in order to make questioning more effective
  • Invasion of personal space by blowing gently on the back of blindfolded detainee's neck while walking around him in silence
  • Striking a tent peg on the table to scare the detainee
  • Shouting at the detainees

How the Iraqi detainees were ill-treated during overnight custody:

  • Detainees were not given adequate food
  • Detainees were kept awake until questioning
  • They were deprived of sight by the use of blacked-out goggles

Ill-treatment of Iraqis 'minor' compared to allegations

Sir Thayne Forbes, Chair of the Al-Sweady inquiry Credit: Pool

The Chair of the Al-Sweady inquiry has criticised the Iraqi detainees and witnesses who gave evidence in the long-running investigation, describing their evidence against British soldiers as "unprincipled" and "without regard for the truth."

There were some instances of ill-treatment by the British military, but these were relatively minor when compared with the original very serious allegations.

I have also come to the conclusion that the overall approach of the detainees and that of a number of the other Iraqi witnesses to the giving of their evidence was both unprincipled in the extreme and wholly without regard for the truth.

– Sir Thayne Forbes

UK soldiers 'mistreated' but did not torture Iraqi detainees

The long-running Al-Sweady inquiry has cleared British troops of the murder and torture of Iraqi detainees a decade ago Credit: PA

British soldiers mistreated nine Iraqi detainees following a firefight near the town of Majar al Kabir in 2004, but allegations they murdered and tortured the Iraqis are lies, a long-awaited inquiry has found.

False allegations of murder, mutilation and torture were the product of "deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility", the judge-led Al-Sweady inquiry has concluded in its final report today.

The conduct of some British soldiers breached the Geneva convention, it found, but was highly critical of the claims it was initially set up to investigate.

British forces responded to a deadly ambush by insurgents with "exemplary courage, resolution and professionalism," the inquiry found.

The report suggested that some of the detainees - all described as members or supporters of the Mahdi Army insurgent group - consciously lied about the most serious allegations to discredit the British armed forces.


Iraq abuse report finds allegations to be 'deliberate lies'

Mizal Karim Al-Sweady, the father of Hamid Al-Sweady carries a photo of his son Credit: Reuters

British soldiers mistreated nine Iraqi detainees following a fierce battle in May 2004, but allegations of murder and torture made against the British military were the product of "deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility", the judge-led Al-Sweady public inquiry has found.

Labour: We need clarity on Iraq deployment timetable

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said tonight it supports the steps taken by the international coalition to assist in the fight against Isis, but called for the government to provide clarity on the timescale for the deployment of UK forces.

Labour supports the steps taken by the international coalition to assist Iraq’s government in responding to ISIL. It is right that the UK's Armed Forces continue to provide training and equipment in support of this effort.

The government should provide clarity about the scale, scope and timeframe of the deployment of these further trainers. The Defence Secretary should clearly outline the numbers of military trainers involved and the work that they will be doing, so that there can be no misunderstanding about the role of British troops in Iraq.

– Vernon Coaker MP
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