Newspaper headlines: End of Iraq abuse unit welcomed

British soldier's boots in Iraq Image copyright PA

There is much rejoicing that the unit handling claims of abuse against British troops in Iraq is to be scrapped.

Three papers believe their campaigns against the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) played important parts in its downfall.

"At last, an end to the witch-hunt," says the front-page headline in the Daily Mail.

The paper believes what it calls the "ruthless hounding of hundreds of innocent soldiers" has been "one of the most shameful chapters" in the annals of British justice.

It says the exercise has been a "nice little earner" for lawyers, agents, Iraqi civilians who received compensation and the Ihat investigators, while troops had their reputations "smeared".

The Mail describes a separate inquiry - into killings carried out by British soldiers during the Troubles in Northern Ireland - as "another, politically motivated witch-hunt".

The Sun condemns Ihat for "blackening the Army's name".

It features the testimony of a former sergeant who says he was "left to rot" while lawyers investigated him for shooting an Iraqi who had been threatening his colleagues with an assault rifle.

While the sergeant was cleared of unlawful killing, the ordeal left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Daily Telegraph also campaigned for Ihat to be shut down.

Its leader column congratulates the government for taking action, but insists that ministers still need to explain why they endorsed the "unfounded pursuit" through the courts of people serving Queen and country.

The paper believes the Iraq investigations amounted to an "abuse of process" which should have been abandoned much earlier.

The Guardian leads on court documents that suggest Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for British arms sales to Saudi Arabia to continue, even after last October's bombing of a funeral in Yemen, which killed more than 140 people.

The letters were disclosed this week during a judicial review of the decision to continue licensing weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.

Image copyright PA

The case was brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

The paper argues that since Saudi airstrikes have hit hospitals, schools and weddings in Yemen, they are at the very least "reckless" and in many cases "deliberate".

The Guardian concludes that arms sales to the kingdom are immoral and ministers should halt them immediately.

The Daily Express says there has been an angry reaction to reports that Brussels is preparing to hit the UK with a £49bn bill for leaving the EU.

The paper says that figure is too much - in fact, at least £49bn too much.

It argues that since the UK is one of only a handful of net contributors to the EU, "they should be paying us".

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Newts headlines

There is potentially bad news for great crested newts in the Financial Times, and it is down to - what else? - Brexit.

The paper says the amphibians are facing a less certain future once Britain leaves the EU.

It says it has been told by government sources that the EU habitats directive is to be repealed, as it gives "excessive" protection to great crested newts.

The FT cites the example of the newt colony that held up the building of a railway station in Derbyshire.

Despite attempts to catch and re-home the creatures, more just kept on turning up.