Once-revered UK human rights lawyer struck off

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Phil Shiner, a once-revered human rights lawyer in the UK, has been struck off.

Defrauding the UK government led to the ultimate downfall of the man who was awarded Human Rights Lawyer of the Year by Liberty, the top civil liberties body in the UK, in 2004. The UK’s Law Society also named him Solicitor of the Year in 2007, according to a report from Legal Cheek.

Shiner became a household name in the UK for representing Iraqis in abuse cases against the British military. However, one of the most expensive disciplinary proceedings in the UK — which cost £25m in 2014 — found that Shiner’s claim that British military personnel had tortured and executed a number of innocent Iraqi civilians were “wholly baseless.”

The former lawyer had admitted to having paid a middleman to find potential human rights abuse claimants against the UK government. Shiner is even said to have known that the practice is in breach of professional rules. He fully or partly admitted 18 of the 24 charges brought against him by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Last year, legal regulators alleged that Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), Shiner’s law firm, had bribed Iraqis to lodge human rights complaints and even masked the bribes as translation expenses — which were then claimed from the UK’s taxpayer-funded legal aid fund.

PIL, which is said to have lodged about 200 claims against the UK’s Ministry of Defence, had been found by a separate investigation to have made allegations based on “deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility.”


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