Policy Exchange’s Richard Ekins gives evidence to Defence sub-Committee inquiry, and comments on the inquiry’s final report 

Richard Ekins, Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, recently gave evidence to the Defence sub-Committee inquiry MoD support for former and serving personnel subject to judicial processes.

Here is the sub-committee’s resultant final report, Who guards the guardians? MoD support for former and serving personnel, which give its verdict on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).

The report concludes that ‘IHAT has become a seemingly unstoppable self-perpetuating machine, deaf to the concerns of the armed forces, blind to their needs, and profligate with its own resources’.

The Judicial Power Project comments:

‘The Defence Committee has issued its report into the work of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT): Who guards the guardians: MoD support for former and serving personnel.  The Committee concludes that the process was deeply problematic and has been unfair to very many servicemen and women and should be brought to a close as soon as possible.  Relatedly, the Government has now announced that IHAT would be shut down.  We welcome the decision and the Committee’s report.  

The excesses of the IHAT process owe much to the legally unsound – and retrospective – extension of European human rights law to UK military operations in Iraq. Policy Exchange first brought attention to this problem in its reports Fog of Law and Clearing the Fog of Law.  In the course of its inquiry, the Sub-Committee heard evidence from Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project – the Project’s head, Professor Richard Ekins, gave evidence in person to the Sub-Committee and the text of our written evidence is set out below.  

In evaluating the Government’s plans to derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in future conflicts, the Sub-Committee relied on our evidence that derogation was a welcome step but was vulnerable to legal challenge and echoed our recommendation that the Government ought to invite Parliament to amend the Human Rights Act 1998 to prevent being forced to undergo a repeat of IHAT in future.’

Policy Exchange’s continued role in highlighting and pushing for action on this issue was acknowledged in this speech given by the Secretary of State for Defence in December 2014, following the publication of the first ‘Fog of Law’ report.

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