I wish to inform the House of progress in responding to the High Court’s decision in 2013 that a process akin to a Coroner’s inquest be established to examine a small number of fatalities of Iraqi nationals arising from UK operations in Iraq where the deceased person was in the custody of or under the control of UK forces.
Sir George Newman today publishes his report into the deaths of Mr Nadheem Abdullah on 11 May 2003 and Mr Hassan Abbas Said on 2 August 2003. Sir George’s terms of reference do not include making findings on any person’s criminal or civil liability but he has carefully examined the deaths of the two men and has considered the wider circumstances that contributed to them.
The report concludes that Mr Abdullah died after soldiers from 3 PARA used excessive force in restraining and searching him and the vehicle in which he was travelling after it avoided a vehicle checkpoint on 11 May 2003. With regard to the death of Mr Said, the report concludes that he died when a soldier attached to 1 KINGS fired a single shot after he attempted to seize the barrel of his rifle, and appeared to reach for the pistol of the soldier attempting to handcuff him. There is evidence that Mr Said was one of several men who fled when challenged by the 1 KINGS patrol for pushing a cart containing ammunition.
Sir George has made a single recommendation, which I have accepted in principle, that focused training on policing and peacekeeping roles in hostile and potentially life-threatening situations should be provided to any service personnel deploying on similar operations in future.
In the light of the facts as found by Sir George, and in particular the finding that excessive force was used, I wish to express the Government’s regret at the death of Mr Abdullah in particular. We are prepared to pay appropriate compensation to his family. The soldiers in both cases have already been prosecuted and acquitted, and will not face fresh prosecutions as a result of these inquiries.
I expect to establish one or more further such non-statutory inquiries into other fatalities during Operation Telic within the coming months.