National newspaper enraged by solicitors “hounding” of British troops
The Daily Mail’s anti-lawyer stance hit new heights today as a merciless attack on solicitors hit the front page.
The newspaper’s venom was directed at human rights firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) — which is currently being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority regarding its involvement in the Al Sweady Inquiry.
The firm has indicated plans to submit 1,154 negligence suits against British troops on behalf of Iraqi claimants.
It is reported that PIL:
[W]ants to use the Human Rights Act to seek cash payouts for the alleged victims.
Unsurprisingly, the notoriously right-wing national newspaper didn’t take the news lying down.
The Daily Mail accused the firm of launching a “witch-hunt against our heroes” by “hounding British troops”. Framing the compensation claims as an attack on army personnel, the newspaper’s coverage also featured an emotive quote from Tory MP and former Army officer Bob Stewart about the impact these claims have on British soldiers. In a damning indictment of the legal process, he said:
Soldiers hate going to court. Some have told me before they would prefer to be under fire.
The newspaper was quick to point out that British troops are more often than not cleared of wrongdoing, in a scathing story on page four of today’s edition headlined, ‘Five years of lawyers sifting through abuse claims… and one guilty soldier’. And, of course, the newspaper noted that “the taxpayer will pick up the bill” for funding the claims.
The story has prompted a predictable backlash from angry Daily Mail readers.
And, as ever, below the line on the Mail isn’t the place for high-level legal discussion — with this commenter who appears less than familiar with basic legal principles among the most popular contributors to today’s discussion.