Labour received thousands in donations from the law firm at the centre of an investigation into the wasting of £31m on an inquiry into allegations of brutality against British troops. On Wednesday the Al-Sweady inquiry reported that claims soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners was “wholly and entirely without merit” and based on “deliberate and calculated lies”.
The Solicitor’s regulator, the Law Society, is now looking into whether firms like Leigh Day and Co broke professional standards by allowing the inquiry to drag on despite the weakness of the allegations. Leigh Day and Co are reported in today’s Daily Mail as having given £33,000 to either Labour or it’s MPs over the past two years.
Whilst the firm has every right to donate to political causes, there are concerns that some of the taxpayers’ money wasted on the Al-Sweady inquiry may have made it into Labour’s hands. Former Defence Minister, Sir Nicholas Soames, has written to Labour demanding the party donate £33,000 to charities that help soldiers.
In his letter he said: “It says everything about today’s Labour Party that – rather than supporting our troops – they take donations from those who seek to undermine them. Ed Miliband needs to forfeit this money immediately. Otherwise people will conclude that he is a weak leader and utterly unfit to be Prime Minister.”
Soames went on to describe the allegations against British troops as “vexatious and malicious”. They centre around the Battle of Danny Boy in Iraq in 2004, at the end of it a group of Iraqis were captured. The Iraqis claimed to be innocent farmers but evidence came to light that they were insurgents. Their claim to have been mistreated was also discounted.
So far Labour have refused to give away the money, claiming they are awaiting the outcome of the Law Society inquiry.
Leigh Day and Co are no strangers to controversy and have previously been criticised for making £11m in one year from suing the National Health Service. On another occasion they sued the Department for Overseas Aid over claims they helped prop up dictatorial regimes. They have also tried to sue the Foreign Office over the use of drones.
Petition Launched Demanding Law Firm Repay Fees
The Thatcherite pressure group Conservative Way Forward has launched a petition demanding Leigh Day and Co repay the taxpayer around £30m for the “unnessesary” Al-Sweady Inquiry.
Paul Osborn, Executive Director of Conservative Way Forward said: “For too long now so-called Human Rights Lawyers have got rich off the back of hard working taxpayers, the time has now come to fight back.
“By setting up this petition we aim to show that the public won’t sit idly by while these lawyers make a profit from promoting ‘deliberate and calculated lies’ about our military.
“By signing this petition people can show their disgust at how our troops have been consistently undermined and attacked by wave after wave of left wing lawyers.”
The full text of the petition reads: “We call upon Public Interest Lawyers and Leigh Day & Co, to repay the £30million cost to the taxpayer for the unnecessary Al-Sweady inquiry.
“The decision by these firms to wait until near the end of the inquiry to withdraw the most serious allegations of murder and unlawful killing needlessly extended the costly investigation.
“These allegations were the result of “deliberate and calculated lies” from Iraqi witnesses and detainees who were driven by an “ingrained hostility” to the British military.
“We also call upon the Solicitors Regulation Authority to investigate the firms involved for prolonging the inquiry and whether this constitutes a breach of professional standards.
“This gross misuse of public funds must be investigated by the SRA which has a duty to ensure the highest professional standards within the legal system.”