COMMONS

Close IHAT this year and immediately dismiss remaining weak cases

10 February 2017

The Report by the Defence sub-Committee, published by the Defence Committee, gives its verdict on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).

IHAT's caseload should be handed over to police

The report concludes that IHAT has become a seemingly unstoppable self-perpetuating machine, deaf to the concerns of the armed forces, blind to their needs, and profligate with its own resources.

It therefore recommends that IHAT's caseload is handed over to Service police, with the support of civilian police, as soon as possible.

Over 3,500 allegations of abuse were taken up by IHAT, many of which were not supported by credible evidence. The report found a range of failings in the conduct of the investigations into those claims alongside a MoD support package which was fragmented, inaccessible and largely unknown. The report concludes that because of this, those under investigation have suffered unacceptable stress, have had their lives put on hold and their careers damaged.

Bonds of trust eroded

The overall impact of this has been the erosion of the bonds of trust between those who serve, and their civilian masters.

The report supports the Government's commitment to derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights in the event of future military operations abroad in order to stop unnecessary and damaging litigation. It also presents a set of principles which should be adhered to by any future inquiry into the conduct of the UK's armed forces on operations.

Chair's comments

Johnny Mercer MP, Chair of the sub-Committee inquiry, said,

"Throughout this process there has been an almost total disregard of the welfare of soldiers and their families. We need to hold our people in the highest esteem and a repeat of IHAT must never be allowed to happen again.

The MoD must take responsibility for allowing this to happen. They could have discriminated between credible and non-credible cases yet they lacked the will to do so. They need to get on and immediately dismiss those remaining cases that are based on obviously weak evidence."

Further information

Image: Crown copyright

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