A LAW firm accused of leading a witch-hunt against British soldiers has its sights on police, The Sun reports. Public Interest Lawyers is at the centre of a political storm for hounding UK servicemen who served in Iraq.
But we can reveal PIL has won a prized government legal aid contract giving it the chance to sue police officers for damages over a host of civil claims.
The deal also means the controversial firm can target prison staff, immigration workers and any other “detaining authority”. The Sun understands PIL is one of 67 legal outfits granted “action against the police” contracts last July by the Legal Aid Agency, which answers to the Ministry of Justice.
Between October 2014 and September 2015 the LAA paid out £3.12million on action against the police claims. PIL can bring civil claims, including pursuing damages for false imprisonment, wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and deaths in custody.
There is also a claim where police have discriminated “in the exercise of their public functions”. Furious ex-Flying Squad chief John O’Connor said: “A small number of firms can make a lot of money by encouraging people to pursue claims against the police.”
News of PIL’s latest deal comes amid a growing scandal over its role in the witch-hunt against our troops. The caseload of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, set up in 2010 to last two years, has grown from 152 alleged victims to more than 1,500.
More than 1,100 fresh cases are expected as PIL and law firm Leigh Day lodge more claims. In total there are 4,000 allegations of mistreatment by British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
PIL revealed its new deal in a press release on its website. Boss Paul McNab said: “We are grateful for the fact that we live in a democratic society with the best legal aid scheme in the world.”