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Four Iraqi citizens win High Court damages against MoD

Four Iraqi citizens have won High Court damages against the Ministry of Defence
Arose out of their i..

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  • 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

By Amie Gordon For Mailonline

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

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 2006Four 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

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 CourtMr 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

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 2008Former 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

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.'

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Australia

Australia resists calls for tougher climate targets

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Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted pressure to set more ambitious carbon emission targets while other major nations vowed deeper reductions to tackle climate change.

Addressing a global climate summit, Mr Morrison said Australia was on a path to net zero emissions.

But he stopped short of setting a timeline, saying the country would get there “as soon as possible”.

It came as the US, Canada and Japan set new commitments for steeper cuts.

US President Joe Biden, who chaired the virtual summit, pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. This new target essentially doubles the previous US promise.

By contrast, Australia will stick with its existing pledge of cutting carbon emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels, by 2030. That’s in line with the Paris climate agreement, though Mr Morrison said Australia was on a pathway to net zero emissions.

“Our goal is to get there as soon as we possibly can, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create,” he told the summit.

“Future generations… will thank us not for what we have promised, but what we deliver.”

Australia is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters on a per capita basis. Mr Morrison, who has faced sustained criticism over climate policy, said action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would focus on technology.

The prime minister said Australia is deploying renewable energy 10 times faster than the global average per person, and has the highest uptake of rooftop solar panels in the world.

Mr Morrison added Australia would invest $20bn ($15.4bn; 11.1bn) “to achieve ambitious goals that will bring the cost of clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture to commercial parity”.

“You can always be sure that the commitments Australia makes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are bankable.”

Australia has seen growing international pressure to step up its efforts to cut emissions and tackle global warming. The country has warmed on average by 1.4 degrees C since national records began in 1910, according to its science and weather agencies. That’s led to an increase in the number of extreme heat events, as well as increased fire danger days.

Ahead of the summit, President Biden’s team urged countries that have been slow to embrace action on climate change to raise their ambition. While many nations heeded the call, big emitters China and India also made no new commitments.

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” President Biden said at the summit’s opening address.

Referring to America’s new carbon-cutting pledge, President Biden added: “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting.”

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56854558

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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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

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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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

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