- Law firm came in for criticism over publicly-funded cases against troops
- It was stripped of its access to legal aid this week after breaching rules
- Reports this morning suggest lawyer could face criminal investigation
Controversial human rights lawyer Phil Shiner faces a potential criminal investigation over the way his firm brought claims against British soldiers, it was reported today
A controversial human rights lawyer is to be investigated over alleged bribes to Iraqi civilians who made abuse claims against British soldiers, it was reported this morning.
Phil Shiner and his law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) have come under intense criticism for bringing cases against British servicemen using publicly-funded legal aid.
Earlier this week, the Legal Aid Agency, the authority in charge of funding cases, axed the firm’s access to public money after finding it had breached its rules.
It was reported this morning that the National Crime Agency (NCA) is set to investigate Mr Shiner over claims Iraqis were paid to bring abuse claims by so-called ‘tank-chasing’ lawyers.
Mr Shiner is accused of knowing that payments, disguised as expenses, were submitted to the public funding authority, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The newspaper reported that a dossier compiled by the Legal Aid Authority will be passed the NCA in the coming days.
PIL, which has received £3million of legal aid in the past decade, has previously denied the allegations against it and vowed to ‘robustly defend’ its record.
The firm has been contacted by MailOnline for comment.
The Legal Aid Agency acted following a review of PIL’s practices and an investigation by the solicitors’ watchdog that could result in the closure of the firm.
Soldiers who served in Iraq have faced a series of claims for compensation from Iraqis
The allegations against PIL centre around two main issues, the first being PIL’s role in the £31million Al-Sweady war crimes inquiry into allegations of murder and torture by British forces.
In December 2014, the five-year public inquiry exonerated British troops and said claims made by PIL’s clients were ‘deliberate and calculated lies’.
Since the revelations came to light, Mr Shiner has been charged by his professional body, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, which referred him to the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal.
Although he could be struck off, the public is not allowed to know the charges against him, and he has won the right to have his disciplinary case heard behind closed doors.
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