Police investigate claims that UK soldiers abused Afghan civilians

Soldier Afghanistan Image copyright PA
Image caption The last British combat troops withdrew from Afghanistan last year

Police have launched a criminal investigation into allegations that British soldiers mistreated civilians during the war in Afghanistan.

More than 100 people claim they were criminally abused and ill-treated over an eight year period in the conflict.

The Royal Military Police (RMP) is leading the independent investigation, Operation Northmoor.

Armed Forces minister Penny Mordaunt has said the military are sometimes subjected to "ludicrous legal claims".

In a blog post on the Ministry of Defence website, following a report about Operation Northmoor in the Daily Mail, Ms Mordaunt said she was concerned that legal action against the military called into question its ability to operate effectively.

"A large number of compensation claims and judicial reviews" are time-consuming and can cost the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds, she said.

"The MoD is looking closely at this issue and as the government's manifesto made clear, we will ensure our armed forces overseas are not subject to persistent and sometimes ludicrous legal claims that undermine their ability to do their job."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt said legal action against the military was time-consuming and expensive

The five-year-long Al-Sweady inquiry, which ruled that allegations of murder and torture made against British soldiers by Iraqi detainees were "deliberate lies", cost the taxpayer £31 million.

The separate claims being investigated under Operation Northmoor are being handled by the RMP with support from the National Crime Agency and Greater Manchester Police.

The UK's 13-year military operation in Afghanistan began in 2001, with the last combat troops withdrawing last year.

At the height of the war in 2009, about 10,000 UK troops were based at Camp Bastion and the UK's 137 patrol bases in southern Afghanistan.

UK troops in Afghanistan


UK troops served


Total operational cost

  • 453 UK troops killed

  • 108 died in 2009 - the worst year

  • 470 mentors staying on