Iraq Historic Allegations Team starts work

The Iraq His­toric Alle­ga­tions Team (IHAT), which will inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions of abuse of Iraqi cit­i­zens by British Ser­vice per­son­nel, has now start­ed work, Min­is­ter for the Armed Forces Nick Har­vey announced today.

The team is led by a retired senior civil­ian police­man and con­sists of mil­i­tary and ex-civil­ian police detec­tives.

Announc­ing that the team has start­ed work today, Mr Har­vey said in a Writ­ten Min­is­te­r­i­al State­ment:

“In March my pre­de­ces­sor announced the inten­tion of the pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment to set up a ded­i­cat­ed Iraq His­toric Alle­ga­tions Team (IHAT) to inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions of abuse of Iraqi cit­i­zens by British ser­vice per­son­nel that have been brought to the MOD’s atten­tion.

“The Gov­ern­ment has endorsed the con­tin­u­a­tion of this approach, and we are deter­mined to ensure that these alle­ga­tions are inves­ti­gat­ed thor­ough­ly and as quick­ly as pos­si­ble.

“I would like to inform the House that the IHAT team now has a full inves­tiga­tive capa­bil­i­ty and has com­menced work. The team is led by a retired senior civil­ian police­man and con­sists of mil­i­tary and ex-civil­ian police detec­tives who will ensure that each alle­ga­tion is appro­pri­ate­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

“Giv­en the vol­ume of alle­ga­tions and the com­plex­i­ty of inves­ti­gat­ing the events in ques­tion, we antic­i­pate that it will take around two years to com­plete the work of the IHAT.

“There are those that argue that the Gov­ern­ment should hold a pub­lic inquiry into these unproven alle­ga­tions now – we dis­agree. A cost­ly pub­lic inquiry would be unable to inves­ti­gate indi­vid­ual crim­i­nal behav­iour or impose pun­ish­ments. Any such inquiry would arguably there­fore not be in the best inter­ests of the indi­vid­ual com­plainants who have raised these alle­ga­tions.

“Nev­er­the­less, the Sec­re­tary of State for Defence has not ruled out hold­ing a pub­lic inquiry at some point in the future, should seri­ous and sys­temic issues emerge from IHAT’s inves­ti­ga­tions that might jus­ti­fy it.

“The estab­lish­ment of the IHAT should not be tak­en as an admis­sion of fault or fail­ure. These alle­ga­tions are as yet unproven, but their exis­tence is cor­ro­sive to both the morale and rep­u­ta­tion of our armed forces. We owe it to them, and the com­plainants, to prop­er­ly inves­ti­gate these alle­ga­tions and that is exact­ly what the IHAT have now start­ed to do.”

“These alle­ga­tions are as yet unproven, but their exis­tence is cor­ro­sive to both the morale and rep­u­ta­tion of our armed forces. We owe it to them, and the com­plainants, to prop­er­ly inves­ti­gate these alle­ga­tions.”
Nick Har­vey

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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