These judicial investigations have been established in response to the High Court’s May 2013 decision in R (ALI ZAKI MOUSA and others) vs. the Secretary of State for Defence. In that judgment the Court held that the arrangements set up for criminal investigations by the Iraq Historic Investigations Team and the Royal Navy Police acting under the Armed Forces Act 2006 are sufficiently independent to meet the requirements of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But the Court also held that, in a number of cases in which a prosecution did not result, an inquisitorial inquiry modelled on a coroner’s inquest would also be needed in order to involve the public and the families of the deceased to the extent necessary to discharge fully the UK’s investigative obligations under Article 2. The Court provided further direction regarding the specific features of this process in its October 2013 judgment. Sir George Newman, who retired from the High Court Bench in 2007, has consented to chair the first two investigations. Sir George will investigate the death of Mr Naheem Abdullah as a result of injuries sustained at a road block in Maysan Province on 11 May 2003, and the death of Mr Hassan Said as the result of gunshot wounds sustained on 2 August 2003. In these cases those accused were acquitted after early termination of the trial. As a result, an inquisitorial inquiry is needed to meet the requirement for public and family access.
Sir George has been directed not to consider issues of individual or collective culpability. These fatality investigations will serve a similar purpose to a coronial inquest by providing the families of the deceased and the wider public with the fullest possible information as to how they died.
At the conclusion of each of these two investigations, Sir George will publish a report setting out his findings and recommendations.
Further judicial investigations will follow. The precise number and timing of these will depend on the outcome of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team’s investigations into the allegations and any resulting prosecutions.