A top law firm paid millions to an Iraqi fixer to find people willing to make allegations of abuse against UK troops carried out during the 2003 war and subsequent occupation.
A tribunal has now heard many claimants were members of a violent militia.
The tribunal into the conduct of Leigh Day also alleged the firm suppressed key evidence that showed many accusers were members of the Shia Mahdi Army, a violent militia, rather than innocent civilians.
Two partners at the firm, Martyn Day and Sapna Malik, and Anna Crowther, a solicitor, are accused of suppressing the evidence.
“Over a period of more than seven years, Martyn Day, Sapna Malik and Leigh Day [the firm] made and maintained allegations that soldiers in the British Army had murdered, tortured and mutilated Iraqi civilians,” Timothy Dutton, QC, acting for the Solicitors Regulation Authority, told the hearing.
“They should not have continued to act for the clients when they had evidence that not only were their clients members of a militia associated with the Mahdi Army and pursuing dishonest claims for improper purposes, but which indicated that the clients and agent were being manipulated, threatened and blackmailed.”
Dutton said the firm had withheld a list which “undermined their clients’ claims they were innocent bystanders.”
“It demonstrated that they were members of a murderous militia who had ambushed British soldiers,” Dutton added.
The inquiry is dealing with the multiple claims against the firm which relate to the 2004 Battle of Danny Boy in al-Amarah, southern Iraq. The accused lawyers deny the allegations.It was estimated that the firm earned up to £10 million ($12.8 million) in fees from their work on Iraq.