- Four Iraqi citizens have won High Court damages against the Ministry of Defence
- Arose out of their ill-treatment and unlawful detention during invasion of Iraq
- Entitled to compensation under Human Rights Act, with one awarded over £30k
- 600 others could now win settlements after their claims were thrown out in 2016
Published: 06:14 EST, 14 December 2017 | Updated: 11:15 EST, 14 December 2017
Four Iraqi citizens have won hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages against the Ministry of Defence over ill-treatment and unlawful detention during the Iraq War.
At the High Court today Mr Justice Leggatt ruled the four men were entitled to compensation under the Human Rights Act, with one being awarded more than £30,000.
More than 600 Iraqis had alleged they suffered at the hands of British armed forces who were part of the Coalition forces in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, but their claims were thrown out by the courts in 2016.
But lawyers warned after today's ruling that the four test cases could now mean the MoD faces paying out millions of pounds in compensation to more than 600 unresolved claims.
Lawyers said after the ruling that the result of the four test cases could form the basis of settlement of more than 600 unresolved claims in what is known as the Iraqi Civilian Litigation. Pictured, British soldiers in Basra in 2005
MoD COULD PAY OUT MILLIONS MORE
More than 600 Iraqis who claimed to have suffered launched their claims for compensation in 2013 – years after the event.
Lawyers said after the ruling that the result of the four test cases could form the basis of settlement of more than 600 unresolved claims in what is known as the Iraqi Civilian Litigation.
The claims were launched in England against the Ministry of Defence after they were prevented from proceeding in Iraq itself, where the coalition armed forces enjoy immunity from legal action.
The claims were given the go-ahead by the High Court in London but were blocked by the Court of Appeal because of a time bar imposed under Iraqi law – a decision which was upheld by Supreme Court justices in 2016.
In the case of Kamil Najim Alseran, who was captured at his home at the end of March 2003 during the advance on Basra by British forces, the judge awarded £10,000 for ill-treatment following his capture, and £2,700 for 27 days of unlawful detention.
Abd Al-Waheed, who was arrested in a house raid carried out by British soldiers in Basra city in February 2007, was awarded a total of £33,300.
He was awarded £15,000 in 'respect of the beating' he suffered after his arrest, £15,000 for what the judge described as 'the further inhuman and degrading treatment which he suffered encompassing harsh interrogation, being deprived of sleep and being deprived of sight and hearing'.
He was further compensated £3,300 for unlawful detention for 33 days.
The judge awarded damages to two other claimants, who can only be referred to as MRE and KSU for legal reasons.
When the war began, the men were serving on a merchant ship moored in the Khawr az Zubayr waterway north of Umm Qasr.
In March 2003, their ship was boarded by coalition forces and the four crew members, including MRE and KSU, were captured.
MRE was awarded a total of £28,140, made up of £10,000 for 'hooding' with sandbags during a road journey, £1,000 for an eye injury sustained as a result of the hooding, and £15,000 for a blow struck to his head, along with £1,440 for the cost of medical treatment, and £600 for six days of unlawful imprisonment.
Mr Justice Leggatt awarded damages to KSU totalling £10,600 for the hooding and the same period of unlawful detention.
Four Iraqi citizens have won High Court damages against the Ministry of Defence arising out of their ill-treatment and unlawful detention during the Iraq War. Pictured are UK soldiers in Basra in 2006
In 2015, then-Secretary of Defence Michael Fallon criticised 'ambulance-chasing law firms' as taxpayers have had to foot a £150million bill for legal fees in cases brought by people claiming human rights breaches in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But today Mr Justice Leggatt announced his conclusions after overseeing two High Court trials during which Iraqi citizens gave evidence in an English courtroom for the first time.
The judge said: 'This judgment follows the first full trials of these claims in which the claimants themselves and other witnesses have testified in an English courtroom.
'Four cases have been tried as lead cases.
'There is no assumption that these four cases are representative of others, but the conclusions reached on the legal issues and some of the factual issues raised are likely to affect many of the remaining cases in the litigation.'
Mr Justice Leggatt ruled that they were entitled to compensation under the Human Rights Act, with one of the men being awarded more than £30,000 at the High Court
An MOD spokesperson told MailOnline: 'Our military personnel served with great courage in Iraq, often working under extremely difficult circumstances.
'We note the Court's ruling that these four detainees were not treated as they should have been, and are studying the judgment.'
The spokesman said the MoD has not yet decided whether to appeal any of the court's conclusions.
It added no service personnel or veterans have been interviewed or charged in relation to the incidents.
Former Secretary of Defence Michael Fallon criticised 'ambulance-chasing law firms' as taxpayers have had to foot a £150million bill for legal fees in cases brought by people claiming human rights breaches in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pictured, troops in Basra in 2008
Sapna Malik, a partner in the international claims team at Leigh Day, who represented Mr Alseran and Mr Al-Waheed, said: 'These trials took place against an onslaught of political, military and media slurs of Iraqis bringing spurious claims, and strident criticism of us, as lawyers, representing them.
'Yet we have just witnessed the rule of law in action. Our clients are grateful that the judge approached their claims without any preconception or presumption that allegations of misconduct by British soldiers are inherently unlikely to be true.
'Our clients' evidence has been tested at length in court and the Ministry of Defence has been found wanting.
'It is vital that those wronged by the UK Government, whether in this country or overseas, are able to seek justice and redress. Their ability to do so in our courts is not a witch-hunt but a testament to the strength of our democracy.'
Shubhaa Srinivasan, also a partner at Leigh Day, who represented MRE and KSU, said: 'The decision sends a clear message that no-one, including the British Government, should be above the law.'
The post Four Iraqi citizens win High Court damages against MoD appeared first on News Wire Now.
Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.
The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.
All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.
It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.
British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.
The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.
It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.
“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.
“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.
It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.
The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.
Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.
Australia’s tight restrictions
The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.
Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.
Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.
The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.
While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.
Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.
In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581
Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection
The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”
“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.
“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”
Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.
Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.
For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.
Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.
A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.
Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane
At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.
When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.
Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.
While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.
But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.
And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.
And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836
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