Claimant lawyer struck off for misconduct over claims against soldiers

Professor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), a claimant law firm that brought a number of legal challenges against local authorities, has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for professional misconduct in the Al-Sweady Inquiry.

The SDT also ordered Professor Shiner to pay interim costs of £250,000.
Following a prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the SDT found allegations of misconduct when representing claims against British soldiers - including acting dishonestly - proven to the criminal standard of proof.

A second solicitor from PIL, John Dickinson, was reprimanded by the SDT and ordered to pay £2,000 costs after it was admitted and found that he failed to keep the Al-Sweady clients properly informed as to the progress of the Inquiry.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: "We welcome the SDT's decision to strike off Professor Shiner, who has been found to have been dishonest. It is important that solicitors can bring forward difficult cases, but the public must be able to place their trust in them.

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"His misconduct has caused real distress to soldiers, their families and to the families of Iraqi people who thought that their loved ones had been murdered or tortured. More than £30m of public funds were spent on investigating what proved to be false and dishonest allegations.”

The Tribunal is expected to publish its decision within seven weeks. Professor Shiner will then have 21 days to appeal.

PIL, which brought high-profile challenges to local authorities over cuts to library services in particular, ceased trading in August 2016.

The firm’s closure came shortly after the Legal Aid Agency terminated its contract with the practice, claiming that contractual requirements had been breached.

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