Tri-Service

Iraq Allegations Lawyer Phil Shiner Struck Off

A controversial human rights lawyer has been struck off after being found to have acted dishonestly in bringing murder and torture claims...

A controversial human rights lawyer has been struck off after being found to have acted dishonestly in bringing murder and torture claims against British Iraq War veterans.

Phil Shiner, a solicitor who worked for the now-defunct Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), had 12 charges of misconduct found proved against him by a panel of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

In five charges he was found to have acted dishonestly, including agreeing to pay "sweeteners" to a fixer, understood to be Abu Jamal, to persuade him to change his evidence to the £31 million Al-Sweady Inquiry.

Nicola Lucking, chairwoman of the panel, said:

"We have come to the conclusion the appropriate sanction is a strike off."

Mr Shiner was struck off the roll of solicitors.

Colonel James Coote, who was a major stationed in Basra, told Forces TV's Carla Prater that false claims against British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004 had been extremely stressful and demoralising.

Colonel James Coote On False Claims Against UK Troops (5307997785001)

Mr Shiner previously admitted nine allegations of acting without integrity, including that he made "unsolicited direct approaches" to potential clients.

He did not attend the hearing, having written to the tribunal to say he was unwell and could not afford to pay for a defence lawyer.

The tribunal heard in December the lawyer accepted he would be struck off as a result of the case, thought to be one of the most expensive ever brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said:

"We welcome the SDT's decision to strike off Professor Shiner, who has been found to have been dishonest."

"It is important that solicitors can bring forward difficult cases, but the public must be able to place their trust in them.

"His misconduct has caused real distress to soldiers, their families and to the families of Iraqi people who thought that their loved ones had been murdered or tortured. More than £30m of public funds were spent on investigating what proved to be false and dishonest allegations."

"We expect solicitors to maintain the highest professional standards in all areas of their work, to uphold the rule of law, act with integrity and act honestly. If they do not, we will take action to maintain the trust the public places in solicitors.”
 

The hearing finished earlier than expected as a result of Mr Shiner's absence and Andrew Tabachnik, representing the SRA, accused him of being "in a state of avoidance" to prevent proceedings from going ahead in full.

The tribunal heard the effects of his involvement on British military personnel in "cold-calling" the family members of alleged Iraqi victims.

Army Colonel James Coote, who was a major stationed in Basra, said the false claims made against British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004 had been "extremely stressful and demoralising".

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

"Justice has finally been served after we took the unprecedented step of submitting evidence on his abuse of our legal system. Phil Shiner made soldiers' lives a misery by pursuing false claims of torture and murder - now he should apologise. We will study any implications for outstanding legal claims closely."

Mr Shiner had admitted acting recklessly by claiming at a press conference in February 2008 that the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians during the Iraq War battle.

Mr Shiner agreed to pay Jamal, named only as "Z" in SRA papers, thousands of pounds for referrals, which is prohibited.

As a team leader at PIL, Mr Shiner authorised and procured payments and fee-sharing agreements with the agent between 2007 and 2010.

One of those payments was for £25,000 on March 30 2009, which he admitted but had denied related to a publicly funded case as the SRA alleged.

More: Decorated Ex Army Officer Speaks Out Against IHAT Investigation