Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Silber agreed this morning to lift the gagging order that had been put in place to prevent publication of the issues surrounding the incident on 14th May 2004 in Majar in southern Iraq, when 31 Iraqis were taken into custody by the British Army at their headquarters at Abu Naji. The application to remove the gag was from both the Iraqi Claimants and from the BBC, Guardian and Times.
Two legal cases have resulted from the incident. The first is an application for a public inquiry of the events that led to the death of 22 of the Iraqis detained and the alleged torture and abuse of the 9 survivors. The second is a compensation claim on behalf of the 9 survivors and the families of the dead. The Court had made an order in December 2007 preventing the publication of any information relating to the events that underpin the issues in the two cases.
The senior partners of the two law firms involved, Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers and Martyn Day of Leigh Day and Co, travelled out to Istanbul earlier this month to meet with some of the survivors and the other witnesses to the events.
Phil Shiner said today:-
The testimonies of these five men taken over 5 days in Istanbul by myself and Martyn contain shocking material and combine to give a harrowing account of what took place. I have never heard such evidence in nearly 30 years of being a solicitor.
Martyn Day said today:-
Phil and I are clear that what took place in Majar is of massive consequence not just for the British Army and the British Government but for the British people. Today is the first step in ensuring what happened in Majar is brought out into the public domain.
The two firms are compiling a review of the evidence obtained during their work in Istanbul. Upon completion of that work they intend to hold a press conference that will set out the position. It is anticipated that the press conference will be held very shortly.