Did British troops commit war crimes in Iraq? We may never know.

The UK government set up the Iraq Historic Allegations Team to investigate possible abuses by the British military in Iraq. The enquiry has now collapsed. One element of this has been the shift in the press and media from horror at alleged British war crimes, to outrage against human rights lawyers who have been pursuing such allegations. Former defence secretary Michael Fallon criticised “unscrupulous” lawyers; armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt described these lawyers’ actions as the “enemy of justice”. When Cameron left office, his successor, Theresa May, lambasted “activist, leftwing human rights lawyers”. The real problem here, however, is not just about the behaviour of the British troops but the entire US-led illegal invasion, occupation and brutalisation of Iraqis. No one will ever be held to account for that.

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Press and media opinion shifted from horror at the allegations of brutality to outrage at human rights lawyers