The real reason the MoD pulled the plug on Iraq War probe today

Hundreds of British soldiers were investigated after alleged misconduct in the Iraq conflict. Credit: PA

The Defence Select Committee had been due to deliver a scathing report into the Iraq Historic Investigations Team (Ihat) on Sunday.

This afternoon they got wind of the fact that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were actually about to announce the closure of Ihat on Saturday.

There was then a scramble to be first as the Defence Committee brought forward their announcement to today so as not to be caught calling for something that had already happened.

But the MoD swiftly retaliated by bringing forward their own announcement so as not to look like they were reacting to the Committee.

It was all just a little Yes, Minister.

But there is a more serious reason why it took the MoD until now to shut down Ihat.

Human rights lawyer Phil Shiner brought murder and torture claims against British Iraq War veterans. Credit: PA

Tonight an MoD source told me they couldn't have pulled the plug on Ihat before Phil Shiner's allegations had been discredited or else the investigations would simply have transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The prospect of British troops being dragged to the ICC was considered even worse than Ihat investigating them.

Once the MoD had found the evidence that Shiner had overstepped the mark and he was struck off they were then in the position to kill off Ihat and transfer the few remaining investigations to the Service Police.