Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT)
What is IHAT?
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is an organisation set up to review and investigate allegations of abuse by Iraqi civilians by UK armed forces personnel in Iraq during the period of 2003 to July 2009.
The alleged offences range from murder to low-level violence and the time period covers the start of the military campaign in Iraq, in March 2003, through the major combat operations of April 2003 and the following years spent maintaining security as part of the Multi-National Force and mentoring and training Iraqi security forces.
Because the MOD and Service Police do not have sufficiently experienced professional investigators, the unit is led by retired senior civilian police detective, Mark Warwick, and comprises some 145 employees, including Royal Navy Police personnel, civilian investigators and civil servants. The MOD funds the IHAT, consistent with its obligations to ensure that allegations are investigated in compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
IHAT is independent of the military chain of command for the purposes of its investigations which are due to be complete by the end of 2019. There are two strands of investigation within IHAT; one focuses on allegations of unlawful killing and the other on allegations of mistreatment. The investigations are carried out by a number investigative teams, or ‘pods’. They are supported by a Command Team, an Intelligence Cell and a Major Incident Room (MIR) support the two strands of investigation. With more than 1,500 allegations to consider across these two categories, this support is essential to ensure the best quality and most efficient use of resources.
Once an investigation is complete the findings are referred to the relevant authority: any cases identifying credible evidence of potential serious criminal acts are referred to the Director of Service Prosecutions in accordance with the Armed Forces Act 2006. For more information on how the military criminal justice system works, please see the website of the Service Prosecuting Authority. Where there is not credible evidence the cases are passed on to MOD who will decide whether a case should be referred to the Iraq Fatality Investigations.
By the end of 2019 the IHAT will have:
- assessed, and where necessary investigated, allegations received by IHAT of unlawful killing and ill treatment by UK armed forces in Iraq
- referred to the Director of Service Prosecutions (DSP) any cases where there is sufficient evidence that a UK service person (whether serving or retired) should be charged with committing a criminal act
- disposed of any allegations where there is not sufficient evidence, or there is not a realistic prospect of obtaining sufficient evidence, to charge a UK service person with a serious criminal offence, including allegations which may be false, distorted or exaggerated
- assesses and, where necessary, undertakes effective and wholly independent criminal investigations into these allegations
- works in partnership with other key organisations, notably the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA)
- prioritises the most serious allegations, both in terms of sequencing and investigative effort
- proceeds as expeditiously as possible, consistent with conducting thorough and proportionate investigations, which are effective, efficient and ethical
- refers cases to DSP where it considers there is sufficient evidence that a UK service person should be charged with committing a criminal act
- issues a final report after prosecutions
- informs MOD of those allegations where it has concluded that there is not such evidence
IHAT’s work is a vital constituent part of the UK’s obligation to conduct investigations into these allegations that are compliant with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the requirements of the International Criminal Court.
Our values, culture and professionalism are shared by all members of the organisation and underpin the delivery of our aim and objectives:
- treat everyone, whether claimant, witness, suspect or legal representative fairly and with respect
- act with confidence and integrity
- have pride in delivering a high quality investigation
- engage, listen and respond
- learn from our experiences and strive for continual improvement
Allegations under investigation
To see information on the cases being investigated by IHAT, please refer to this table.
Baha Mousa review team
In addition to the cases listed above IHAT was tasked with reviewing the report into the death of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist who died whilst in the custody of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment in 2003.
In March 2012, following the completion of the Public Inquiry under Sir William Gage in September 2011, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces announced that the IHAT should conduct a review of the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry report. A small team dedicated 12 months to reviewing the available evidence from the previous investigations and inquiries into the circumstances surrounding Baha Mousa’s death. The review team reported on 1 May 2013 and this resulted in the decision to begin further investigations. Whilst it is impossible to say when these will be complete, IHAT is working hard to ensure work continues efficiently and without delay.
More than 3,390 allegations of unlawful killings and ill treatment have been received by the IHAT, with the vast majority coming in the last few years.
The team have been working hard to weed out claims where there isn’t a case to answer or it is considered not proportionate to conduct a full investigation. More than 1,666 allegations have been sifted out and never reached full investigation as a result of this.
Of the remaining allegations, we currently have closed, or are in the process of closing, 696 (as of 30 December 2016).
IHAT uses a thorough, detailed, investigative strategy looking at all of the claims to ensure that credible allegations of criminality are investigated. We also group large numbers of often very similar allegations together and deal with them as single investigations. This means we can deal with large numbers of cases at one time, resulting in large reductions in cases closing at any one time.
All of this detailed investigation work takes time but, by adopting this approach and while we cannot prejudge which of the remaining allegations will carry on to further investigation, we expect to have around 60 investigations by the middle of this year. We expect to have completed nearly all of our work by the end of 2019.
You can access our work completed table here. This table only shows those cases that have closed after reaching full investigation and is only updated once the claimant has been notified of the closure. This is why the table will show different figures to above.
- 3,392 allegations received
- 1,667 sifted or closed with minimal investigation
- 696 cases closed or in the process of being closed
- around 60 investigations left by the middle of 2017 (figures correct as of 30 December 2016)
A written summary issued by IHAT on progress made is available here.
Service and veteran witnesses
The vast majority of service and former service personnel whom we interview are not suspected of any crime. We do, however, need to talk to them to establish what happened and to record evidence that will assist our investigations.
We generally make contact by letter or by telephone before speaking to witnesses. Sometimes, due to the nature of the investigation, there isn’t the opportunity to write or call before witnesses are contacted.
Serving witnesses will be asked if they wish their Chain of Command to be informed of the approach from our investigators and, if so, we will do this as soon as possible.
Where there are concerns for the serving person’s welfare there may be occasions where the decision to inform is taken irrespective of the preference.
IHAT takes its duty of care to both serving and former personnel extremely seriously and we realise that witnesses who have served in very difficult and challenging circumstances may require pastoral care before, during and after talking to us.
If an investigator has any concerns that a serving soldier requires support we tell his, or her, Chain of Command so they can arrange appropriate support.
In the case of veterans, if our investigators have any similar concerns we provide contact details for their relevant NHS trust and various veterans’ services. A range of welfare support is available from a variety of sources. Please see Support services for ex-service personnel section below.
Support services for ex-service personnel
IHAT has a responsibility to make sure that the people we contact during the course of our investigations know how to access support, should they need help dealing with issues such as PTSD.
For those still serving this is provided primarily through the chain of command. Retired personnel can access a network of support from Veterans UK, regimental associations, service charities and other sources. IHAT has published a list of initial contacts which retired personnel can approach.
- each regiment and corps in the UK armed forces has its own regimental association and relevant regimental headquarters should hold these contact details
- Veterans UK
- Royal British Legion
- Army Benevolent Fund
- Sailors Soldiers and Air Force Association
- Combat Stress
IHAT has a responsibility to make sure that the people we contact during the course of our investigations know how to access support, should they need help dealing with issues such as PTSD. The map document is a comprehensive guide to services provided, normally by the NHS or a charity, according to the geography of the British Isles.
What do I do if I am contacted by IHAT?
IHAT investigators will only contact a potential witness if it is necessary and reasonable to do so. On occasion investigators may speak to people who have not served in Iraq to see if they can add value or understanding to an investigation.
You can write to IHAT at the following address:
Iraq Historic Allegations Team
Wiltshire SN9 6BE
Or telephone 01980 615857
To report information confidentially to the investigation team telephone 01980 618843
For information on our complaints policy and procedure, please email
email@example.com including a daytime phone number and details of your query.