Lawyer who led Iraq veterans 'witch hunt' failed to convince tribunal he was too unwell and poor to turn up

Peter Walker
Mr Shiner has been ordered to pay costs of more than £720,000 - Heathcliff O'Malley

The disgraced lawyer who led the witch hunt against Iraq war veterans failed to convince a disciplinary tribunal that he was too unwell to attend, it has been revealed.

Phil Shiner was struck off the solicitor roll after pursuing a decade-long "witch hunt" against innocent British soldiers in Iraq which prompted a failed £100m taxpayer-funded investigation.

A 78-page document released this week reveals how the 60-year-old dodged his hearing by appearing to embellish his financial difficulties and health.

"The tribunal was not satisfied that the respondent was too unwell to attend or unfit to participate," wrote panel chairwoman Nicola Lucking.

Mr Shiner and Shami Chakrabarti, then of pressure group Liberty, in 2008 Credit: Katie Collins/PA

"Not only did the medical evidence not support the respondent's assertion, it tended to point in the other direction."

The report wrote how Mr Shiner handed the panel a letter from his GP, dated in December, and a second from January, which simply read: "He remains unfit to perform any form of work".

But Ms Lucking said the January letter, which made no reference to the legal proceedings and was not addressed to the tribunal, "did not go into sufficient detail".

She instead said the medical evidence from Mr Shiner, because it was so "articulate", suggested he was more to fit to work than previously thought.

The exhaustive document also revealed how Mr Shiner told the panel "at present I do not have the money to pay for [legal] representation"

But Ms Lucking said he gave no evidence for why he could not hire a solicitor and claimed he applied at the eleventh hour, just one working day before the hearing, for it to be adjourned.

"It was not supported by a statement of truth and much of its contents were not supported by documentary evidence," she said.

"The tribunal was not persuaded that he had insufficient funds to pay for representation."

The document concluded that Mr Shiner's misconduct was "deliberate, calculated and repeated". He was "willing to disregard his professional obligations" and made "false" allegations against soldiers which caused "serious harm" to the British Army.

A Telegraph investigation has already revealed how Mr Shiner sold his Birmingham home, for £300,000 in January to his two grown-up daughters, shortly before declaring himself bankrupt.

He also owns a home, in the same Selly Park area, which was bought for £470,000 in 2009.

Mr Shiner brought more than 2,200 abuse claims against troops which included allegations of murder and torture.

The tribunal heard he paid a local agent £500 for each Iraqi he could find with allegations against troops, and then made £1.6 million in an improper deal to carve up the profits.

His firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), which was paid more than £200,000 by the Ministry of Defence, folded in the summer after the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) withdrew funding and warned it would try to recoup millions.

Mr Shiner's work prompted the creation of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) but it was shut down a week after the lawyer's hearing.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found him guilty of 22 misconduct charges, including five of dishonesty, after the two-day hearing brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Johnny Mercer MP, a former Army officer, called Mr Shiner a “modern-day traitor" and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon demanded an apology.

Labour peer, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, said he did good work but "lost his way".

Mr Shiner, who has repeatedly refused to comment to media, has been ordered to pay £722, 983.05 in costs.

The National Crime Agency, in a letter seen by The Telegraph, says it is trying to "ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence to place before the Crown Prosecution Service".

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