The government’s £60 million criminal investigation into British troops in Iraq has now officially closed.
The Iraq Historical Allegations Team, known as IHAT, was condemned by a parliamentary report in February.
The MoD was accused of paying “ambulance-chasing lawyers” to bring thousands of “spurious” cases against troops.
Phil Shiner, a lawyer whose firm brought the bulk of the cases, was struck off for misconduct earlier this year following a solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal lasting several weeks.
IHAT was set up in 2010 and received almost 3,500 allegations of abuse. But the team itself was accused of “hounding” military personnel who served in Iraq.
The Al Sweady inquiry, set up to examine multiple allegations of abuse, torture and even murder of Iraqi civilians by British troops, collapsed after the law firm behind the claims was accused of misconduct.
Public Interest Lawyers, headed up by lawyer Phil Shiner, was bringing in the bulk of the cases and was accused of “cashing in”.
IHAT had paid Mr Shiner and his Iraqi agents hundreds of thousands of pounds to help with its investigations. The tribunal found he had acted dishonestly, by bringing false claims made by Iraqis.
A parliamentary report branded IHAT “unfit for purpose” and accused the Ministry of Defence of enabling law firms “to generate cases against service personnel at an industrial level”. It recommended that IHAT be shut down immediately, having “directly harmed the defence of our nation”.
Around 20 remaining allegations will be handled by the service police, and completed by the end of next year. An MOD spokesperson said:
“IHAT will close on 30th June 2017, having already disposed of the vast majority of around 3,400 allegations. Responsibility for completing the remaining investigations will pass to the Service Police.”