Leader comment: Lawyer’s disgraceful breach of trust

Lawyer Phil Shiner has been found guilty of multiple professional misconduct charges.
Lawyer Phil Shiner has been found guilty of multiple professional misconduct charges.
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Human rights lawyer Phil Shiner told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal examining 12 charges of misconduct levelled against him that he was unable the attend the hearing because he was unwell and could not afford to pay for a defence lawyer. He was found guilty of dishonesty at the hearing.

This must be one of the most shocking, disgraceful and expensive breaches by a lawyer in modern history.

In five of the charges found proven he was found to have acted dishonestly, including agreeing to pay for a man to change his evidence to the £31 million Al-Sweady Inquiry in to allegations that British troops were guilty of atrocities in Iraq. All the allegations were subsequently proved to be false. He was also found to have paid over £1m to have people in Iraq go door-to-door looking for allegations of mistreatment. Mr Shiner brought more than 2,000 cases to court, single-handedly prompting the setting up of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team to probe allegations that UK troops unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqis.

The finding of the tribunal and his subsequent striking off must raise serious doubts in every case he has brought, and any in the past where there has been a finding of guilt must surely be a priority for re-examination.

But now every case, regardless of whether or not is was brought by Shiner, has to be examined in the light of these findings. Hundreds of soldiers have been forced to go through ordeals in what is an unforgivable breach of trust from this lawyer. Others should be spared from similar ordeals as soon as possible.