British troops still being hounded over incidents during the Iraq War with £40million spent so far

Dozens of British troops are STILL being investigated over 127 Iraq War allegations

Dozens of British troops are still under investigation over incidents during the War despite ministers vowing the witch-hunt would be ended last year.

A 70-strong investigations unit is probing 27 incidents involving 127 allegations, the latest official figures show. Each incident involves several soldiers.

The unit took over from the controversial Iraq Historical Allegations Team (Ihat).

A total of £40million has so far been spent investigating British troops over a ten-year period but not a single soldier has been prosecuted, figures reveal.

Operation Northmoor, a separate probe into alleged criminal behaviour in Afghanistan, is also still investigating British troops. Officials last night refused to disclose how many Afghan cases they are investigating, leading to claims of a ‘cover-up‘ by hounded soldiers.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Defence gave the figure as fewer than ten. The MoD refused to reveal whether the number had increased or decreased.

The policy of non-disclosure came in after Prime Minister Boris Johnson established a new veterans office this summer with a main priority of stopping the witch-hunt against British troops.

The Government announced in February 2017 that Ihat would be shut down following a Daily Mail campaign that exposed its failings.

Sir Michael Fallon, the then defence secretary, said Ihat – which once had 3,600 claims on its books – would have its caseload reduced to just 20 by that summer. He predicted those inquiries would be closed by military police in 2018. 

Ihat was shut in June 2017, but figures provided by the Ministry of Defence in June this year show soldiers are still being investigated.

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They are now being questioned by a new body based in Wiltshire called the Service Police Legacy Investigations (SPLI).

The unit is made up of 40 members of the military police, 20 contractors and ten civil servants.

A total of 15 of the 27 incidents are under full investigation, with the remaining 12 considered ‘directed lines of inquiry‘, which means the case is at an early stage.

Only ten cases were closed in a six-month period. If the investigations continue at the same rate, they could last at least another year – well beyond the pledged end-date. Last night former soldiers reacted angrily to the figures and pointed to a ‘cover-up‘.

Decorated Army major Robert Campbell, who has faced repeated investigations over the drowning of an Iraqi teenager, said: ‘There is no reason to withhold that information, so obviously it‘s embarrassing to the Ministry of Defence.

‘It might be a cover-up because they are putting people under surveillance again. Who do the accused turn to though? Obviously the Army doesn‘t care, nor does the MoD, so who looks after their interests?‘

Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, said: ‘The Government gave a very strong impression Ihat was being shut down but now clearly the same thing is happening under a different name in an attempt to bamboozle people.

‘What this is doing is hounding soldiers who have served their country over things that happened years ago. If there had been any genuine case to answer it would have been dealt with years ago.‘

An MoD spokesman said: ‘Our armed forces served with bravery and distinction, and we rightly hold them to the highest standards.

‘Where there are credible claims of criminal behaviour, it is right they are investigated.‘  


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