Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are the Iraq Fatality Investigations?

The Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFIs) are a form of inquest.  They have been established because the High Court ruled in 2013 that the Service Police investigations conducted by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) should be followed up where necessary by a form of inquest that is publicly accountable, involves the families of the deceased, and considers the wider circumstances to the extent required by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

It is not possible to conduct a coroner’s inquest in these cases, as the deceased are not UK citizens and their bodies have never been brought to the UK.  The Secretary of State for Defence has instead appointed Sir George Newman, a retired High Court judge, to run these “quasi-inquests”.

 

How many cases are there?

Please refer to the current cases and concluded cases sections of this website for details of ongoing and concluded cases.  Reports into concluded cases are available here.

 

Is the IFI the same as the IHAT?

No.  The IFI and the IHAT are completely separate from each other.  Once the IHAT, in conjunction with the Director of Service Prosecutions (DSP) and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA), has decided that there is no realistic prospect of a criminal conviction in a particular case, it is passed to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).  The MoD then decides whether or not it is an appropriate case for the IFI.

 

Are these criminal investigations?

No. They are a form of inquest, and are intended to ascertain how an individual died and whether there are lessons that can and should be learned.  They are not concerned with determining liability and Sir George’s terms of reference prohibit him from making findings about the criminal or civil liability of personnel involved in these cases, whether or not they are still serving. 

 

Will there be prosecutions?

At the start of each case, Sir George Newman requests from the DSP, the Attorney General (and his equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland if necessary), and the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) an undertaking that witnesses will not be prosecuted on the basis of any self-incriminating statements they make during these Investigations.

 

For witnesses

Why have I been contacted?

You have been contacted because you were either a member of the unit involved in an incident under consideration by the IFI, and so may have information that can assist Sir George in understanding what happened, or because you have served in a specialist role (e.g. quartermaster, training officer, etc.) and may be able to help him understand wider issues relevant to his Investigation.

 

What do I have to do?

In the first instance you will be required to answer some questions to enable Sir George’s team to understand whether you know anything that might assist their Investigation.  You may then be asked to provide a witness statement.  It is possible that you will also be called to give evidence at a public hearing.

 

What happens if I refuse to give evidence?

If you refuse to assist Sir George’s Investigation without good reason he has the power to apply to the High Court for an order requiring you to provide a witness statement or to attend a public hearing.  If you fail to comply with that order you may be liable to a fine or prison sentence.  If there are good reasons why you cannot assist Sir George, you need to bring these to his attention as soon as possible. 

 

Do I need a lawyer?

You do not have to appoint a lawyer, as you are not a suspect.  However, a lawyer may be able to assist you in producing a witness statement (if necessary), or in making Sir George aware of any issues that affect your ability to engage with this process.  Lawyers from the Government Legal Department (‘GLD’) have experience of these proceedings, and are available to provide independent legal advice at no cost to you if requested.  Funding for lawyers other than from the GLD can be available.  There is a costs protocol  governing such expenses.

 

What do the public hearings involve?

You will be asked questions by Sir George or one of the lawyers on his team.  These are not adversarial proceedings, so there will be no cross-examination and no jury.  Your evidence may be relayed via video link to Iraq to enable the deceased’s family to follow the Investigation.

 

Can I give evidence anonymously?

Sir George has decided that anonymity will be available where appropriate to soldiers to allow them to give their evidence, both written and oral, anonymously. Individuals who wish to do so may make a request for anonymity to Sir George, who will determine whether, in the circumstances, it is appropriate to grant anonymity according to the principles set out in the 'General Ruling on Anonymity' which is available from the ‘Press and Media’ page. Where anonymity is granted, you will be allocated a cipher and your name will not be disclosed or published in Sir George's report at the conclusion of the Investigation (please note however that if you give evidence at oral hearings, members of the press and public who attend in person will be able to see and hear you). 

 

Will it cost me anything to give evidence?

If you travelled by bus, coach or tube to any location where you were required to give evidence, your fare (standard or economy class) will be repaid in full.  Please keep tickets and receipts as proof of travel.  If you travelled using your own transportation (car or motorcycle) an amount will be paid per mile.


Subsistence costs are available to reimburse you for any necessary additional costs of food and accommodation in connection with your attendance at hearings.


In addition, you are also able to claim loss of earnings (up to a limit) as a result of you missing work to give evidence.

 

What support and assistance is there for me if I am suffering from stress or have a mental health condition as a result of my military service?

Combat Stress is a free service offering treatment and support to veterans suffering with mental ill-health. Their website can be accessed here.

In addition, NHS support services for veterans can be accessed through your GP.   Useful information and be found by accessing the relevant NHS web page here.  Further useful contacts on the NHS website can be found here. here.  Information regarding services throughout the UK can be accessed here.

If you have any other concerns regarding assisting this investigation please come back to us and we will do our very best to see to it that you receive the support and assistance you require.