UK pays £9m in compensation to Iraqi civilians

Image caption, Compensation was paid to the family of Baha Mousa, who died in British detention

Nearly £9m has been paid in compensation to Iraqi civilians who suffered due to UK military operations, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The money went to people who were injured, lost loved ones or had property damaged between 2003 and 2009.

The MoD paid £4.17m to settle more than 1,000 small claims made inside Iraq.

It had to pay a further £4.64m in High Court cases in London in 2008-09, brought by 21 victims of unlawful treatment or torture in UK custody.

This included the case of a child who was accidentally shot by a British soldier.

The £2.83m compensation paid to the family of hotel worker Baha Mousa, 26, who died in British military detention in September 2003, and to nine other Iraqis held with him, is included in this sum.

Most of the 1,145 relatively small payments were for damage to property and injuries caused by road accidents.

They were made without admission of liability by the MoD's now-closed Area Claims Office in Basra, southern Iraq.

'Illegal war'

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell described the compensation bill as an "eloquent postscript" to Tony Blair's decision to join the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

He told The Independent newspaper: "If we hadn't been engaged in an illegal war, then these payments would not have been made.

"They are an eloquent postscript to the error that was made in joining with the United States in unjustified military action.

"It was perhaps just as well for our reputation that so many of these cases were settled informally, without coming to court."

Other figures obtained by The Independent show the MoD paid out £825,000 to settle 1,142 compensation claims made to the Area Claims Office in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009, including £105,000 in cases where people died.

An MoD spokesman said: "When compensation claims are received they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation.

"Where there is a proven legal liability, compensation is paid."

The MoD said the money paid through the Area Claims Office in Iraq was in accordance with local compensation rates and with advice taken from an Iraqi legal official.

"In many cases British forces had no legal liability, but made goodwill payments because the MoD recognised the hardship suffered," the spokesman added.

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