A former human rights lawyer accused of fraud over legal claims brought by civilians against Iraq War veterans will stand trial in September 2024.
Phil Shiner, 65, was once voted Human Rights Lawyer of the Year and presented himself as a champion of Iraqi victims of alleged brutality by British soldiers during the conflict of the early 2000s.
He denied four counts of fraud at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Southwark Crown Court today (Friday, November 18). The charges relate to alleged failure to say he had engaged in cold calling and gave someone money to change their account of an event during the war.
Appearing from his home in Birmingham over a video link wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie, he spoke only to confirm his name and reply “not guilty” when each charge was put to him.
The first two charges allege that between September 27 and September 29 2007 he applied for a judicial review of the Ministry of Defence’s application not to hold an independent inquiry into Iraqi Khuder Al Sweady’s nephew’s death when he allegedly failed to disclose he had engaged in cold calling and payment of referral fees.
The third charge states that between October 14, 2007, and October 16, 2007, when challenging the decision to refuse funding for the application, he allegedly enclosed a statement as corroboration in relation to Mr Al Sweady’s allegation which had been obtained by cold calling, that he did not disclose.
The fourth charge said that between April 1, 2015 and April 30, 2015 he allegedly lied to the legal watchdog, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, that he used an account given by Manzin Younis that contradicted his earlier account, and that Shiner gave him money to change his account.
During his time as boss of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), Shiner brought thousands of criminal complaints to the Iraq Historic Investigations Team (IHAT), which was set up by the Ministry of Defence to investigate soldiers.
None were ever charged and the company was shut down in 2017. The charges relate to the fallout from the al-Sweady inquiry, which was set up by the government to examine claims British troops had massacred Iraqi civilians.
The inquiry cost £25 million but found the claims of torture and murder were completely fabricated and a product of deliberate lies. He was granted legal aid at an earlier hearing.
During the 20 minute hearing today, Prosecutor John Ojakovoh and his lawyer Helen Butcher spoke only to set dates for future hearings and deal with administrative matters.
The facts of the alleged offences were not read out. Judge Gregory Perrins bailed him on condition that he lives and sleeps at his address until his eight week trial which begins on 2 September 2024.
A case management hearing which he is not expected to attend will take place on 19 May next year.