Iraqi admits he set up fake abuse claims against British soldiers

Stephen Walter
British troops have faced claims they abused Iraqis during the war - AFP

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson last night said he was “repulsed” by an Iraqi refugee’s admission that he helped arrange hundreds of fake abuse claims against British soldiers.

Whistleblower Basim Al-Sadoon told a national newspaper that he had an office in Basra, Iraq, that allegedly handled made up claims from locals against the British Army in a bid to win compensation from the Ministry of Defence in British courts.

Mr Al-Sadoon, 37, described the scam as a “racket”, and he told The Sun: “It was like a claims factory and it didn’t matter if the claims were true or false.” He reportedly talked about how clients sourced paperwork that wasn’t real, and accused soldiers who weren’t even present.

Boasting of connections in Iraq, he said a vast number of his 300 clients made up allegations in a bit to earn money. “Word spread and they would come to me. It was all about money - people exaggerating sometimes what they see,” he said.

One example he chose to highlight was a claim he was bringing about concerning himself which was inspired by an incident involving Danish troops.

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers  Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP

He said he was asleep at home in 2004 when they allegedly beat him with rifle buts and seized him against his will. Using that experience, he says he and 17 other Iraqis made the exact same allegations against British forces in claims submitted by law firm Leigh Day. “Same date, same hour, same allegations, same operation. It wasn’t Danish troops, it was British. All of us did the same,” he said.

Last night Mr Williamson said: “Hundreds of brave and innocent British heroes suffered great pain at the hands of this sick get-rich-quick scam.

“I’m repulsed by these vile revelations... and those responsible should be held to account.”

The Sun reports that he was employed by a British-based Iraqi middleman named Mazin Younis, 59, who was contracted by UK law firm Leigh Day and the disg­raced Phil Shiner’s firm Public Interest Lawyers. It says Mr Younis was paid for passing clients to Leigh Day and also received money from Mr Shiner for securing claimants, and used people like Mr Al-Sadoon to help him secure clients.

In a statement to the newspaper, Leigh Day vehemently denied any wrongdoing and insisted they had no knowledge of the behaviour outlined by Mr Al-Sadoon, nor encouraged it. They pledged to take appropriate action if claims were found to be without merit. Mr Younis also denied wrongdoing.