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Record length SDT hearing expected for Leigh Day solicitors under fire for British Army claims

Partners from Leigh Day are set to face a seven week Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing over claims that the British Army unlawfully killed and tortured Iraqi civilians.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is prosecuting Leigh Day senior partner Martyn Day, partner Sapna Malik and assistant solicitor Anna Crowther. Timothy Dutton QC of Fountain Court Chambers leading is leading for the SRA.

The case will start from the first available date from March 6 next year. The hearing is likely to be one of the longest-running cases in the tribunal’s history. According to the tribunal’s most recent annual report, last year the tribunal heard two cases that ran an unprecedented 16 days long.

The charges date back to the five-year Al-Sweady inquiry into civilian claims of abuse by British soldiers in 2004 during the Iraq War. The inquiry was concluded in 2014 when chairman Sir Thayne Forbes declared many of the claims were false or exaggerated.

In the report, Forbes said the most serious claims ‘have been found to be wholly without foundation and entirely the product of deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility’.

Human rights firm Leigh Day has repeatedly said it stands behind its work with Iraqi claims in relation to abuse. Day and Malik are facing prosecution by the SRA on charging prohibited fees of up to £75,000, failing to provide the correct documents and personally endorsing the allegations. In total the SRA is bringing to the tribunal 19 allegations against the pair.

Leigh Day said in a statement: ‘We have now been served with a formal set of charges based on some 30 files of material. Our legal team has now started the process of reviewing all that evidence. The matter is now formally before the tribunal so it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.’

Last week a High Court judge ruled the firm was negligent in its duty of care to thousands of victims of a toxic waste spill after failing to secure their £30m settlement. Leigh Day has said it will look at appealing the decision.