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Israel: Tom Hurndall and James Miller

Volume 684: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What actions will now be taken by the Office of the Attorney General following the Attorney-General's recent meetings with the Israeli Attorney General and other Israeli Ministers and officials in regard to the Tom Hurndall and James Miller cases.[HL6252]

Following the recent inquests into the tragic deaths of James Miller and Thomas Hurndall in Gaza, the coroner wrote to me asking that I consider possible prosecutions in the United Kingdom. Since receiving that request, I met both the families on 5 May to discuss the cases. I also took advantage of a long-standing arrangement to visit Israel in the week commencing 21 May to have a meeting with the Attorney General and the Military Advocate General and the military prosecutors involved in these two cases. I also raised these cases in meetings with the Israeli Foreign Minister and the Minister of Justice and separately held meetings with Israeli lawyers, including the lawyers for the families. The principal purpose was to obtain further information about the cases and the investigations that were undertaken by the Israeli authorities to inform my decision, but I also raised the issue of holding an independent inquiry into the deaths and subsequent investigation and pressed for appropriate compensation to be paid, particularly to Mrs Miller, without delay.

The Israeli authorities are now actively considering disciplinary action against a soldier for lying in the course of the field investigation that took place following the death of James Miller. I also understand that the Israeli authorities are keen to make contact with the Miller family to discuss compensation.

My office has passed information about my visit to the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police and has also updated the English solicitors acting for the Miller and Hurndall families.

As a result of my visit I expect to obtain further information shortly that will assist me in carrying out my independent role in considering prosecutions in the United Kingdom. I will inform the House once I have reached a concluded view.