Human rights lawyer Professor Phil Shiner has been struck off and ordered to pay costs of £250,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over the pursuit of false allegations against British soldiers in Iraq.
Shiner of the now defunct Public Interest Lawyers was handed the fine in a prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). A £2,000 fine was issued to a second lawyer from the firm, John Dickinson, at the tribunal yesterday (2 February). The SRA was represented by Andrew Tabachnik of 39 Essex Court Chambers.
The claims of murder and torture of prisoners against British soldiers at the Battle of Danny Boy during the Iraq War in 2004 led to the £31m Al-Sweady inquiry, which lasted from 2009 until 2014.
Public Interest Lawyers, which closed in August last year, represented the families of dead Iraqis in the allegations against British soldiers. The claims were ultimately dismissed in the inquiry’s final report as ‘wholly without foundation’.
The tribunal found Shiner had acted dishonestly when representing claims, including making unsolicited approaches to clients, entering into improper fee agreements and presenting changed evidence to the SRA. Shiner admitted paying middleman Mazin Younis, who made unsolicited approaches to potential clients in Iraq.
SRA chief executive Paul Philip (pictured) said: ‘His misconduct has caused real distress to soldiers, their families and to the families of Iraqi people who thought that their loved ones had been murdered or tortured. More than £30m of public funds were spent on investigating what proved to be false and dishonest allegations.’
In April lawyers from Leigh Day are also set to face the tribunal. The SRA is bringing 19 charges related to the Al-Sweady inquiry against senior partner Martyn Day, partner Sapna Malik and solicitor Anna Crowther. The case is set to last up to seven weeks.