David Cameron’s official spokesperson has expressed concern over misconduct accusations levelled against UK armed forces veterans, which may be “fabricated” or “not justified.”
According to the BBC, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) has officially informed around 280 veterans they are under investigation. The organisation was set up to investigate allegations of abuse towards Iraqi civilians by UK armed forces personnel during the period 2003 to 2009.
To date, 35 cases involving unlawful deaths and 36 cases alleging abuse and mistreatment have been referred to the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA), the military equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). There have been recent reports, however, that some former personnel had faced repeated investigations over the same events, or in connection with allegations that were not justified.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: "We are deeply concerned about these types of situation. Every false claim that the government [has to] respond to, investigate and defend is diverting spending from the front line and from the work that our armed forces do to keep us safe.”
"It is important that the government looks at what it can do to stop these types of scenarios where the claims may be fabricated, or not justified, and to look at how we deliver a better system in the future."
Last year’s public Al-Sweady Inquiry concluded that allegations suggesting that Iraqis had been murdered while in military custody were “wholly without foundation”, although it conceded that some of the detention techniques used were tantamount to mistreatment.
Mr Cameron's spokeswoman added: "We are concerned at reports about people being solicited by lawyers to make allegations that - as the Al-Sweady Inquiry showed - can often be fabricated."
The director of the SPA, Andrew Cayley QC, said the organisation "will not flinch" in prosecuting personnel, in cases in which there is sufficient evidence against them.