One of the cases involving British soldiers’ behaviour in Iraq is reported to be that of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist allegedly killed in Basra last September by soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, which has been at the centre of unconnected allegations of prisoner abuse.
The lawyers involved include a barrister from Matrix Chambers – the chambers of the Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair – and the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers.
Yesterday, the Government warned the lives of British troops in Iraq may have been put at risk by the publication of photographs apparently showing British soldiers torturing and abusing an Iraqi prisoner.
Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram said the military authorities would leave “no stone unturned” in their efforts to establish the truth behind the pictures published in the Daily Mirror on Friday.
In a Commons statement, Mr Ingram called on the Mirror to co-operate fully with the inquiry into the abuse allegations being carried out by the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch (SIB).
He insisted the claims – said to involve soldiers from The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment – were already undermining the work of the Armed Forces trying to restore stability in Iraq.
“These allegations have been put right across the Arab world and also into Iraq,” he told MPs.
“There is always a question of lives being put at risk because of what may prove to be unfounded allegations, so it is on the conscience of those who run it in this way.”
While he said that the Ministry of Defence had taken the photographs at face value, he confirmed that the SIB was examining their authenticity.
In an editorial, the Mirror has said that it had “no doubt” the photographs were genuine and that the story they revealed was “as real as it is horrifying”.
However, former members of the regiment and some other newspapers have said that the pictures appeared to be staged and that some of the equipment carried by the troops in the photographs was not used in Iraq.
Mr Ingram said that SIB investigating officers were in touch with the Mirror, which had so far handed over some 20 photographs to the MoD.