Penny Mordaunt defended Iraq 'witch-hunt' probe against UK troops
Penny Mordaunt defended Iraq ‘witch-hunt’ war crimes probe against UK troops
- War crimes probe, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, cost taxpayers £34million
- Not one soldier investigated by IHAT was prosecuted, but Mordaunt backed it
- Her record of Armed Forces minister came under scrutiny last night by veteran
The former defence minister backed a controversial war crimes probe against British soldiers – while her department approved payments to shamed lawyer Phil Shiner, it emerged yesterday.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) cost taxpayers £34million and saw hundreds of veterans hounded over abuse claims which proved to be false.
Not a single soldier investigated by IHAT was prosecuted for war crimes but Penny Mordaunt backed the scheme.
During the Tory leadership contest Miss Mordaunt has sought to position herself as the candidate best placed to protect the UK’s Armed Forces as prime minister.
But her record as Armed Forces minister in 2015-2016 came under scrutiny last night as an Army veteran revealed how she responded when he raised issues about IHAT.
Major Robert Campbell spent 17 years clearing his name over his part in an Iraqi teenager’s death in 2003. The allegations, pursued by IHAT, destroyed his career and personal relationships. He was not exonerated until 2020.
Penny Mordaunt backed a £34million controversial war crimes probe against British soldiers, The Iraq Historic Allegations Team. Major Robert Campbell, pictured, was one of many investigated by IHAT, and spent 17 years clearing his name
In 2016 he pleaded with Miss Mordaunt to intervene. But she staunchly defended IHAT, claiming its staff were ‘sensitive’ to veterans and ‘alive to the difficult conditions’ during the Iraq War. She went on to serve as Defence Secretary in 2019.
The Daily Mail has long campaigned to end the witch-hunt against troops.
Last night, Major Campbell said: ‘British troops were being raked over the coals but she brushed me off. IHAT officials were most certainly not alive to the difficult conditions – only those who fought in Iraq could say that. She says she’s the candidate who appreciates the Armed Forces, but to me that is phoney.’
Miss Mordaunt’s tenure as Armed Forces Minister also coincided with the MoD making multiple payments to the disgraced law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), run by Mr Shiner.
MoD officials wrote a cheque to PIL for £6,817.50 on January 27, 2016 – the same day that Miss Mordaunt made a Commons speech claiming she supported soldiers facing claims of war crimes.
Not a single soldier investigated by IHAT was prosecuted for war crimes but Penny Mordaunt backed the scheme
Details of this payment, and others, are confirmed in a Freedom of Information request obtained by the Mail.
In the Commons debate, Miss Mordaunt told MPs she was ‘protecting our Armed Forces from litigation motivated by malice and money’.
Major Campbell added: ‘The timing of that payment is typical.
‘Unbeknownst to other MPs in the chamber, the MoD is at the very same time issuing these payments to PIL, funding the law firm’s campaign of hate against British troops.’
Miss Mordaunt’s team did not respond to a request for comment.
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