News story

Publication of the Al-Sweady inquiry report

Sir Thayne Forbes has published his independent report into allegations of murder and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraq in 2004.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

7 Royal Horse Artillery firing a light gun in the direct fire role in Kuwait [Picture: Warrant Officer Class 2 Giles Penfound, Crown copyright]

7 Royal Horse Artillery firing a light gun in the direct fire role in Kuwait

The report proves conclusively that allegations of torture and murder are untrue and that all of the 28 dead were killed in fighting with British Forces.

His report also finds that some aspects of prisoner handling and of tactical questioning did amount to ill-treatment, although these were not deliberate acts.

However it acknowledges the strenuous efforts taken by the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence since 2004 in our approach to detention on operations, with much better training, resourcing and oversight.

The Secretary of State accepts in principle all of Sir Thayne’s 9 recommendations, subject to further advice from officials about the practicality of implementing them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

The inquiry has utterly rejected all claims of murder and torture as deliberate and calculated lies.

This is unsurprising as we have long said there was no credible evidence to back up these claims.

Regrettably a public inquiry was necessary to put to rest false allegations that were championed by 2 law firms at great expense to the taxpayer.

Whilst the vast majority of the accusations against the British military were wholly and entirely without merit and the Army’s use of force was entirely appropriate, there were some instances of ill-treatment.

However I am satisfied that those incidents would not occur today thanks to changes made since 2004, including as a result of the Baha Mousa Inquiry.

We will of course consider the recommendations in full and respond in due course.

General Sir Nicholas Carter the Chief of the General Staff said:

This inquiry, which has been hanging over the heads of many soldiers for a decade, has found that all of the serious allegations raised against them have been wholly without foundation.

In fact they have been the product of deliberate lies and disingenuous speculation.

This report will be a huge relief to the soldiers and their families who have been affected.

It shows that the soldiers involved in this engagement acted with exemplary courage, resolution and professionalism.

It is of course right that the Army and its soldiers should be held to account when they fail to uphold our high standards.

And it is important that we learn appropriate lessons from this case.

Published 17 December 2014