Families of Iraqi dead “lied and exaggerated” in order to “deceive and mislead” an inquiry into believing that British troops executed and tortured prisoners in order to win huge compensation payouts, an inquiry has heard.
British troops were alleged to have beaten captives, made them face mock executions and stabbed them following a fierce firefight near Basra in May 2004. The Iraqis said that the troops, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, tortured and killed the prisoners as revenge for the death of six Royal Military Policemen earlier that year.
The incidents were alleged to have taken place at the Abu Naji camp after a confrontation between British troops and Iraqi insurgents, named the Battle of Danny Boy, after a nearby checkpoint.
However, the Daily Mail reports that the case collapsed last month after lawyers for the Iraqis admitted there was no evidence insurgents were murdered. The hearing into the allegations had already lasted a year and cost £23 million of taxpayers’ money.
Neil Garnham QC of Treasury Solicitors, who represented many UK personnel, told the Al Sweady Inquiry that the Iraqis persistently “lied and exaggerated,” meaning their allegations could not be trusted. He also added that the allegations were “implausible, confused and inconsistent”.
He accused the Iraqis of being involved in a “deliberate and co-ordinated attempt… to deceive the inquiry into believing UK troops had tortured and killed prisoners.”
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) added that these allegations caused soldiers “immense anxiety and distress,” adding: “The untruthful allegations cannot be attributed to honest mistakes or misunderstandings. They are the product of a conspiracy between a number of the Iraqi core participants to pervert the course of justice.”