Al Sweedy witchhunt!

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DEFENCE Minister Fallon yesterday announced that there would be an investigation into solicitors who represented Iraqi complainants at the Al Sweedy inquiry.

He made his threat after the inquiry found that British solders were not guilty of the murder and torture of Iraqis.

Public Interest Lawyers responded that the inquiry was ‘legally necessary, morally justified and politically required’.

It added: ‘It found that on a number of occasions Geneva Convention provisions had been breached including the use of improper and proscribed interrogation techniques and that deficient medical treatment had been provided.

‘Of particular concern to us are the findings that four of the five techniques banned from Northern Ireland are once again found to have been used by UK Personnel in Iraq.

‘These are sleep deprivation, sight restriction, dietary deprivation and the use of noise. The Inquiry’s recommendations aimed at proscribed techniques and the role of doctors and medics are designed to deal with these systemic issues and to design out the possibilities for future abuses of detainees by UK Forces abroad.

‘This important and worthwhile report upholds some of the more serious allegations against the British Army.

‘Some allegations were withdrawn because of the work of the Inquiry, others have been dismissed.

‘However, there are many very serious criticisms of the ill treatment and breaches of human rights of the Iraqi detainees. The histories the Inquiry considered have enabled it to make these findings.’

In his House of Commons statement, Fallon said the findings were ‘incontrovertible’.

‘British soldiers did not carry out the atrocities that had been falsely attributed to them,’ he told MPs.

Fallon said it was ‘shameful’ that the allegations of murder were only withdrawn in March.

He announced that the conduct of some of the lawyers acting for the detainees would be investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

He demanded those lawyers issue an ‘unequivocal apology to the soldiers whose reputations they attempted to traduce’ as well as ‘to the taxpayers who have had to pay the cost of exposing these lies’.

The solicitors involved, Public Interest Lawyers and Leigh Day, have previously represented Iraqi families, such as Abu Mousa’s family and Mau Mau victims of British atrocities with very great success for their clients.

Now it seems a witchhunt is to be organised against them.