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Review to be handled 'quickly' after Iraq cases lawyer Phil Shiner struck off

Cases brought by a disgraced lawyer against Iraq War veterans are to be reviewed after he was struck off for misconduct and dishonesty.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) said investigations that originated from Phil Shiner and his firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) would be assessed and a decision reached over which cases should no longer be pursued

A string of misconduct charges against him, including five of dishonesty, were found proven following a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing.

An Ihat spokeswoman said: "Ihat's caseload is already expected to reduce to around 60 investigations by summer 2017 and the evidence presented at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal casts serious doubt on the reliability of some of the remaining allegations.

"We are working closely with the Service Prosecuting Authority to determine which of the remaining allegations originating from PIL should now not be investigated. We will reach decisions as quickly as we can."

PIL were behind around 65% of the 3,392 allegations received by Ihat, which now has fewer than 250 active investigations.

Mr Shiner faces a call from Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon to apologise to the soldiers he brought claims against following the judgments.

Sir Michael said: "Justice has finally been served after we took the unprecedented step of submitting evidence on his abuse of our legal system.

"Phil Shiner made soldiers' lives a misery by pursuing false claims of torture and murder - now he should apologise. We will study any implications for outstanding legal claims closely."

Twelve charges of misconduct, which he had denied or partially admitted, were found proved against him by a panel of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

In five of those charges, the 60-year-old was found to have acted dishonestly, including agreeing to pay "sweeteners" to a fixer, understood to be Abu Jamal, to persuade him to change his evidence to the £31 million Al-Sweady Inquiry.

Mr Shiner previously admitted nine allegations of acting without integrity, including that he made "unsolicited direct approaches" to potential clients.

A further charge that he acted recklessly by claiming at a press conference in February 2008 that the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians during the Battle of Danny Boy was found proved on the basis of his partial admission after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) dropped an accompanying allegation of a lack of integrity.

Mr Shiner was ordered to pay interim costs of £250,000, with a full means test to determine further costs to follow.

The case is thought to be one of the most expensive ever brought by the SRA, with costs expected to exceed the £475,000 reached before the trial.

The solicitor did not attend Thursday's hearing, having written to the tribunal to say he was unwell and could not afford to pay for a defence lawyer. Last year, he instructed counsel to apply for an anonymity order which would have meant the case was heard in private.

Reporters gathered outside Mr Shiner's semi-detached house, situated in the leafy Birmingham suburb of Selly Park, were told by a neighbour: "He's gone away for a few days."

The neighbour, who had a front door key to Mr Shiner's house, did not elaborate.

The hearing finished earlier than expected as a result of Mr Shiner's absence and Andrew Tabachnik, representing the SRA, accused him of being "in a state of avoidance" to prevent proceedings from going ahead in full.

Mr Shiner, who uses the title professor, came to public attention when he represented the Iraqi family of Baha Mousa, who was beaten to death by British soldiers.

He has launched many other high-profile legal actions against the Ministry of Defence relating to alleged human rights abuses involving UK armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Birmingham-based PIL, of which Mr Shiner is sole director and 100% shareholder, closed down in August after being stripped of legal aid funding for breaching contractual requirements.

Mr Tabachnik said: "That has not been put into liquidation or any other comparable form of administration."

The tribunal heard of the effects of his involvement on British military personnel in "cold-calling" the family members of alleged Iraqi victims.

Army Colonel James Coote, who was a major stationed in Basra, said the false claims made against British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004 had been "extremely stressful and demoralising".

Mr Shiner also agreed to pay Jamal, named only as "Z" in SRA papers, thousands of pounds for referrals, which is prohibited.

As a team leader at PIL, Mr Shiner authorised and procured payments and fee-sharing agreements with the agent between 2007 and 2010.

One of those payments was for £25,000 on March 30 2009, which the panel found was made in relation to a publicly-funded case.

Two of the allegations Mr Shiner denied, that he misled the inquiry by failing to make full disclosures and also the Legal Services Commission over legal aid grants, were found proved on the basis of the majority of the particulars the SRA put.

Two other charges will lie on file after the SRA decided not to pursue them on the "basis of proportionality".

The tribunal will aim to publish its decision in full within seven weeks and Mr Shiner will then have 21 days to appeal.

Sgt Brian Wood, who served in Iraq as part of the 1st Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, told BBC Radio Four's PM programme: "For me personally, it's a small win.

"It hasn't taken anything away from what he did to me, to be honest. I would like him to go to a criminal court and to actually be man enough, like I had to, and go into a courtroom with a number of people within that room.

"He was playing with people's lives, people's career. I know four people who have struggled with their career, being focused on their job in hand, with their career, who have got real, real bad PTSD, their marriages have fallen apart.

"All because we had a system which allowed people like Shiner to exploit and question. It breaks my heart that I even had to go there that day and stand up."

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