- Leigh Day its co-founder and two of his colleagues faced misconduct charges
- Firm alleged mistreatment of captives by British soldiers in Iraq in 2004
- They were prosecuted after some claims were found to be 'entirely false'
- SDT panel found that none of the allegations against the lawyers could be proved
- MoD 'disappointed' by decision and vows to defend against 'false claims'
The Ministry of Defence has vowed to 'vigorously defend' against 'false' allegations after a law firm that pursued claims built on 'deliberate lies' against British troops in Iraq was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Leigh Day and its solicitors Martyn Day, Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther, faced a string of misconduct charges over their handling of claims against the MoD.
Allegations were made by Iraqis claiming they were subjected to inhumane interrogation techniques and torture by British troops after the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) took the decision to prosecute the firm following the end of the £31million Al-Sweady Inquiry, which found the most serious claims of murder and torture were 'entirely false' and the product of 'deliberate lies'.
But a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal's (SDT) panel today found that none of the allegations levelled at the lawyers was proved.
Pictured left to right, Anna Crowther, Martyn Day and Sapna Malik
Mr Day and Ms Malik were each cleared of 16 misconduct charges, while fellow solicitor Ms Crowther was cleared of four, including an allegation of destroying a key document. The firm was exonerated of 11 counts.
All had denied any wrongdoing.
The MoD said it was 'disappointed' by the panel's decision.
A spokesperson for the ministerial department said: 'We have noted today's decision and are disappointed that the Tribunal has not agreed with the concerns we have raised.
'We will continue to both vigorously defend any opportunistic claims when we believe they are false or exaggerated, and to bring any evidence of wrongdoing to the attention of supervising bodies.'
The tribunal heard Leigh Day worked with now-disgraced solicitor Phil Shiner to represent Iraqi clients in parallel legal actions.
Mr Shiner was struck off by the SDT in February for dishonesty over his handling of war crimes allegations against the British Army.
He did not appear at his hearing and 22 misconduct charges were found proved in his absence.
The tribunal heard Leigh Day worked with now-disgraced solicitor Phil Shiner (pictured)
Leigh Day's defence team, led by Patricia Robertson QC, accused the SRA of being 'unprincipled' in attempting to use the Shiner judgment as a 'short cut'.
Following the 22-day hearing, SDT panel chairman Simon Tinkler said: 'The tribunal has therefore found that none of the allegations made have been proved.'
The panel said a formal judgment will be issued in August.
The tribunal heard Leigh Day had spent at least £7.5 million defending the allegations, with their team comprising two QCs from Fountain Court Chambers.
It is also thought to be one of the costliest prosecutions the SRA has pursued, expected to exceed the more than £475,000 spent in the Shiner case.
In a statement, Mr Day said: 'We are pleased that the tribunal has cleared us of all the charges, and confirmed our view that we did not act improperly or dishonestly in these legal claims against the Ministry of Defence.
'For nearly 40 years I have battled on behalf of the ordinary man and woman in this country and abroad to ensure they get access to justice not least when they face the might of British multinationals or Government.
'I am very pleased that I and my colleagues can now get back to doing the work we love.
'We would like to thank our insurers and our fantastic legal team and counsel for all their hard work over the past couple of years, and during this hearing, and all those within the legal world and beyond who have given us such strong support.'