Eleven British detectives have revealed they found credible evidence of war crimes by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and have been covered up the UK government and armed forces.
In an investigation made by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times, the detectives alleged the crime committed were the killing of civilians. Soldiers should have been prosecuted for these killings, say insiders.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it rejected the unsubstantiated allegation of a pattern of cover-ups.
The new evidence has come from inside the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
The government decided to close IHAT and Operation Northmoor, after Phil Shiner, a lawyer who had taken more than 1,000 cases to IHAT, was struck off as a solicitor following allegations he had paid fixers in Iraq to find clients.
But former detectives from IHAT and Operation Northmoor said Phil Shiner’s actions were used as an excuse to close down criminal investigations. None of the cases investigated by IHAT or Operation Northmoor resulted in a prosecution.
One IHAT detective told Panorama: “The Ministry of Defence had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary, and they couldn’t wriggle their way out of it.”
Another former detective said the victims of war crimes had been badly let down: “I use the word disgusting. And I feel for the families because… they’re not getting justice. How can you hold your head up as a British person?”
Operation Northmoor was set up by the government in 2014 and looked into 52 alleged illegal killings.
Its closure was announced by the government before Royal Military Police detectives even had a chance to interview the key Afghan witnesses.
One Northmoor detective said: “I wouldn’t write off a job until I have spoken to both parties. If you are writing off a job and the only thing you have got is the British account, how is that an investigation?
“My view is that every one of those deaths deserved to be examined and due process of law to take place.”
The MoD said military operations are conducted in accordance with the law and there had been an extensive investigation of allegations.
“Investigations and decisions to prosecute are rightly independent from the MoD and have involved external oversight and legal advice,” a spokesperson told the BBC.
“After careful consideration of referred cases, the independent Service Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute.”
“The BBC’s claims have been passed to the Service Police and the Service Prosecuting Authority who remain open to considering allegations.” (Source: BBC)