Legal profession comes out in defence of ‘military chasing’ Public Interest Lawyers

Makes a change from the barrage of abuse the firm is used to

Iraq

Parts of the legal profession have defied popular opinion today and come out in support of shamed human rights law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL).

PIL has got to be one of the most controversial law firms in the country right now. Headed up by equally controversial partner Phil Shiner, the firm has reportedly brought nearly 200 compensation claims from Iraqis against British servicemen and women. For months, PIL and its lawyers have been accused — largely in right wing tabloid media — of leading a “witch-hunt against our heroes”.

Now, it seems like the Daily Mail and co’s persistent calls for the firm’s shut down have paid off.

Yesterday, it was revealed the Birmingham-based firm will be closing its doors at the end of this month. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is also expected to get involved over allegations of misconduct.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the British public is pretty happy to see the back of the ‘military chasing’ law firm. The Sun’s defence editor David Willetts welcomed its demise as “terrific news”; even Theresa May is said to be “very much pleased”.

In and among the social media furore, lawyers have refused to turn on their own. Some have, in fact, come out in support of the firm.

Human rights specialist Shoaib Khan described the firm’s reported shut down as “sad news”, and chose to reflect on the more positive aspects of PIL’s legacy.

Fellow human rights lawyer Adam Wagner said nobody should be reaching conclusions about the firm until the necessary disciplinary investigations have concluded. In the same vein, leading family lawyer Philip Marshall QC said it was “worrying” the firm was being closed down before it had been investigated.

University of Bristol law school’s Matt Burton said it was “very worrying” to see lawyers “being punished” for holding government to account, while the media cheers on.

49 Comments

Anonymous

The MOD has killed this firm. That should be worrying for all those with an interest in freedom.
I do also laugh at the idea of calling our forces in the Middle East “heros”. They are mostly thugs.

(15)(69)
Anonymous

Because of the people like you, Britain has declined from a world power to a world laughing stock. Young, ‘educated’, lefty Britons have no sense of pride of their country, allegiance or patriotism. How can you possibly call soldiers thugs? These people put their own lives on the line, day-in day-out, protecting and defending our values as a civilisation?

(35)(28)
Anon

How can one feel a strong sense of pride for having been born on this planet, at this time, and in this very specific geographical location? Patriotism is for patriots and the less educated to use in argument against naysayers.

(16)(20)
Anonymous

It’s not a matter of patriotism, it’s a matter of justice. Who should we be to stop Iraqi victims getting justice for heinous crimes committed against them. I am very proud to be British and I believe firmly in our armed forces but why should the right wing media defend people who have done atrocious things and tarnished the good name of our forces. I believe justice must be served and the closing down of this firm is stopping many victims of unbelievable crime being heard and it stops the government and other high standing people being held accountable for their actions.

(17)(10)
Anonymous

wow….

“Because of the people like you, Britain has declined from a world power to a world laughing stock.” – is this the most wrong thing written on the internet ever? I think it is might be. Gold Star!

” How can you possibly call soldiers thugs? ” – Easy – meet some – see them being thugs and say they are thugs. Also watch the repeated news stories about them being thugs.

“These people put their own lives on the line, day-in day-out, protecting and defending our values as a civilisation?” – what is going on in the Middle East is not protecting and defending our values as a civilization – it has caused the greatest threat to it since the last word war.

You are a sun reading tool AICM£5

(14)(17)
Anonymous

Instead of sitting behind a computer screen like a coward why don’t you go out there and defend your country ? Of course you won’t.

(13)(9)
Anonymous

Read that back to yourself slowly, think about what you said and then go and have intercourse with yourself.

(11)(6)
Filberto

I don’t like to call people morons often – it usually adds nothing to the debate and it is, frankly, ad hominem which is a logical fallacy.

Having said that I will make an exception for such an emotive issue where you yourself have made a number of illogical and incoherent claims which are without foundation – you, and a commentator above are most certainly morons.

The commentator above said “[soldiers] are mostly thugs.” And then you supported his argument by saying “easy – meet some – see them being thugs and say they are thugs.”

The first comment was illogical because, without knowing ‘most’ soldiers there is no way the commentator could possibly make that claim. It is simply anti-military.

It would not be tolerated in comments on race, gender or religion. While people in the military may have a tendency to violence more so than the average person by reason of their job, the use and direction of violence does not necessarily make them thugs.

Let’s remember that those who fought against Nazi Germany where, at heart, violent. And without their bravery and ability to be violent to achieve their goals we may not be here today, able to freely criticise our military and government…

Secondly, you said “meet some – see them being thugs …” I don’t understand the logic of this argument. There are thugs (as in those who use violence in the pursuit of some wrong or evil, rather than those who use violence in the pursuit of preventing an even worse evil) in all walks of life. You’re a total idiot if you think that one sentence actually substantiates your argument. It doesn’t. You’re not commentating on the daily mail here. You’ll have to try harder, most of this reading legal cheek will be educated and able to see past your BS arguments.

(7)(2)
The lAWYER

I saw your ”Heroes’ in action in Belfast…enough said

(0)(3)
nthenry

Nobody should be above the law. It is not a two tier system.

(0)(0)
Not A Soppy Idealist

Sadly, human rights legislation can be abused. This case is a good example.

(17)(8)
Anonymous

Really? Have you been in theatre to see the realities of war?

(0)(0)
Anonymous

I have met many of them. They are mostly thugs. Thick thugs that cant function in real life.

(7)(24)
Anonymous

“I have met many of them. They are mostly thugs. Thick thugs that cant function in real life.”

As someone who served and saw some of the finest soldiers (from across all nations deployed) killed in Iraq, I’ll be sure to brief the ones who made it home that their inability to function in “real life” is due to their “thick” and ‘thuggish’ ways. Furthermore, I will inform them that their character and intellect seriously impedes their ability to not only defend the UK and support other countries around the world, but also their ability to show overwhelming courage, self-sacrifice and loyalty under immense pressure in extraordinary circumstances.

I sincerely hope you never again come into contact with any of those men and women who have served. I fear their intellect and values will seriously inhibit you functioning in the “real world”.

(26)(4)
Anonymous

see – immediate threat of violence in the face of criticism. Maybe if your brain functioned properly you would see that this is what I mean when I say you are a thug.
🙂

(3)(14)
Trumpenkrieg

Being a thug is one thing, but being a cuck like you is unpardonable.

(8)(2)
Anonymous

The world must be a very scary place for you if you perceive the response above as threatening 😆

(1)(0)
Anonymous

Have you considered that they are “thugs” because of what they have been through? PTSD is to blame for many ex-service people being able to make the transition to civet street.

Your comments show a complete ignorance of life in and out of the services for service personnel.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

I am a lawyer who is very glad that this firm is closing down. They have abused the legal aid system falsely accused British soldiers doing a very difficult job and blackened the name of the legal profession. Good riddance

(25)(5)
Anonymous

For a firm that was partially responsible for the work behind the Baha Mousa inquiry and the revelations which ensued, it has always struck me as manifestly unfair that we pretend that claims by Iraqis against the MoD are wholly without merit when criticising Public Interest Lawyers.

That is not to say that there isn’t a case to answer. Having dealt with Phil Shiner on multiple occasions, this has been a long-time coming and I have no sympathy for the man whatsoever.

(10)(1)
Anonymous

The work they did on BM was clearly needed, but as you say – couldn’t happen soon enough for Shiner.

(1)(0)
Just Anonymous

The misconduct allegations stem from the following judgment of Leggatt J in Al-Saadoon [2016] EWHC 773 (Admin). I quote the relevant part in full so, if you haven’t already read it, you can do so and draw your own conclusions as you see fit:

“This is sufficient reason to dismiss the claim. But I cannot let the matter pass without recording my concerns about the way in which this claim has been handled by the claimant’s legal representatives.

The first cause for concern is that, when a witness statement was obtained from Mr Muhyi in 2013 for the purpose of making a civil damages claim, PIL failed to note the inconsistency between his evidence and the allegation on which the judicial review claim was based. There was plainly no intention to hide Mr Muhyi’s new account of events as the substance of it was contained in a case summary served by PIL on the Government Legal Department on 10 May 2013 for the purpose of the compensation proceedings. However, no amendment was made to the claim summary in the present proceedings to reflect Mr Muhyi’s evidence, nor was IHAT told about it. In consequence, time was spent by IHAT examining an allegation of failure by British soldiers to clear unexploded cluster bombs, when this allegation was no longer being made (assuming that it had ever been made) by the claimant. That should not have been allowed to occur. It is clearly essential that PIL should have systems in place to ensure that information and instructions obtained from a client in connection with a civil damages claim are taken into account in any claim for judicial review relating to the same incident (and vice-versa).

The second cause for concern is the more serious because it is a matter not of efficiency but of integrity. At the start of July 2015 one of the claimant’s then counsel (who did not subsequently appear at the hearing) noticed and pointed out to PIL that the allegation made in their client’s most recent (and only signed) witness statement was that Jafaar was killed by a bomb dropped from a helicopter (see paragraph 124 above). That allegation was obviously quite different from, and inconsistent with, the allegation originally made in these proceedings that Jafaar was killed as a result of playing with an unexploded cluster munition. In those circumstances no responsible lawyer aware of the 2013 witness statement and conscious of their duties to their client and the court would have felt able to advance the original allegation as if it were their client’s current case unless they had first raised the inconsistency with Mr Muhyi and received instructions from him that the 2013 witness statement was erroneous and that he believed the allegation made in the original unsigned statement to be true. That, however, was exactly what was done. Amended grounds for judicial review were served which advanced a positive case that Jafaar was killed as a result of playing with an unexploded cluster munition. That case was put forward without any fresh instructions from Mr Muhyi and without disclosing to the Government Legal Department or to the court the existence or content of his 2013 witness statement. The explanation given at the hearing for this conduct was that the deadline for the service of amended grounds for judicial review was imminent and that it was not possible in the short time available to contact Mr Muhyi to confirm whether his 2013 witness statement was correct. The fact that there is insufficient time before a pending deadline to establish the true position, however, cannot possibly justify putting forward a case which is flatly inconsistent with the client’s most recent evidence – still less can it justify doing so while concealing that fact from the other party to the litigation and the court. By acting as they did the claimant’s representatives misled the court and thereby obtained permission to proceed with the claim. They also caused the Secretary of State to incur the trouble and expense of preparing evidence and argument in response to a claim for which there was no proper basis. This was not a brief aberration, quickly corrected. It was persisted in for over three months before the true position was disclosed in early October 2015.10

I have throughout this litigation been immensely impressed by, and grateful to, PIL and the counsel they instruct for the dedicated and responsible way in which they have represented the interests of their clients and ensured that important issues are raised and argued. Against that background, it is all the more disappointing to encounter in the conduct of this claim such a serious failure to observe essential ethical standards.”

(18)(0)
Clif Chancer

MUMMY!!
A lawyer told a lie – for his client to win money??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?
MUMMY!!!!
MUMMMMMMMMMMY!!!!!!!

(4)(0)
Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

*enters into comment section*
*fucks off immediately*

Alright, boys.. calm down.

(3)(0)
Anonymous

I’m sorry for the individual rank and file staff members who’ll lose their jobs, but frankly I couldn’t be happier to learn that this bunch are closing doors.

(5)(1)
Gladiatrix

So the legal profession has not come out in defence of PIL; a handful of lawyers have commented, nothing more.
I’ve told you a million times, Legal Cheek, don’t exaggerate.

(3)(0)
Trumpenkrieg

It’s a typical left-wing churnalistic trick. Round up a handful of comments and pass it off as the whole world singing in unison.

(2)(5)
Notjohnlydon

The comments on the Law Society Gazette are not what I would call supportive.

My own view is that, if the Daily Mail is crowing about it, it must be a thoroughly bad thing.

(1)(2)
Anonymous

Shiner should be deported to Iraq and left to perform vital ‘personal’ services to ISIS fighters.

(5)(1)
Tory Boy

Who is this Nob at 11:24am talking about British values? I fully support and respect the British armed forces but please explain to me how invading Iraq based on a bare face lie was defending British values and protecting our way of life??? You are precisely the reason why the upper classes and Middle classes look down on the working class. Uneducated and unwashed Brexit afterbirth moron…

(1)(6)
Trumpenkrieg

And the uneducated and unwashed award goes to… you, for conflating British soldiers doing their duty with the politicians sending them to war.

(7)(1)
Filberto

“You are precisely the reason why the upper classes and Middle classes look down on the working class. Uneducated and unwashed Brexit aftermath moron…”

Wow! I really like how you’ve just assumed that he’s working class, and voted Brexit (how does Brexit relate to this issue?).

Sounds like you have some serious issues buddy. Maybe you need to get laid?

(5)(0)
Anonymous

You seem to have a poor grasp of history and politics. It was the government that decides/ed to go to war. The armed forces just do as they’re told.

(1)(0)
Anonymous

Is diddums still upset as not getting his own way over Brexit? Aw, pass him his teddy bear to calm him down.

(1)(0)
Martin woodhead

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(0)
Anonymous

And kept his account right up to the very last day when he said – well it turns out there’s no evidence of murder after all. No shit Sherlock. That was evident very early on in the hearings! The allegations should’ve been dropped earlier when the MOD said there was no case to answer on the point.

(3)(0)
Matt Wardman

Hmmm.

1 – 5 year Independent Judge-led enquiry finds all kinds of problems.
2 – Public money is protected by Legal Aid Agency withdrawing contract.
3 – Firm chooses to close itself down.

And your 4 person definition of “legal profession comes out in defence of” is interesting.

1 – Adam Wagner did not come out in PiL’s defence, unless I missed something.
2 – Shoaib M Khan has his whole career in that space.
3 – PMJ QC didn’t some out in their defence either, and admits to knowing little about it anyway.
4 – “University of Bristol law school’s Matt Burton” is a junior academic who doesn’t even seem to be in the legal profession.

Time for a correction?

In my view Shiner should be considered for a Misconduct in Public Office prosecution, at the very least.

(3)(0)
Anonymous

There is nothing wrong with cases being brought against MOD of there is a case to be brought. As a lefty there seems to me to be an issue that certain people criticise individual soldiers and not the much more powerful and culpable MOD. Soldiers are often drawn from working class backgrounds with few other opportunities. The left and left-wing firms should criticise the MOD for their plans in Iraq but not individual soldiers who have little if no other choice other than to act on what they’re told by the upper-brass. Also it should be said that criticising the MOD is not unpatriotic, when being able to hold powers to account is quintessentially a British tradition.

(0)(0)
Gordon Logan

I’ve been hounded by the British government since the early 1980s. That includes 3 plans to kill me – one of which was aborted. I have survived one vehicular homicide (I got a tip off) and weapons grade salmonella poisoning. Right now the Home Office is looking for a loophole in human rights law that will allow them to force me and my family to live in China. The UK is a stinking pit of hypocrisy and, thanks to the Conservatives, is getting worse.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.