6 January 2016

Thornberry took donation from under-fire law firm pursuing soldiers who served in Iraq


Labour’s new Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry took a large donation from the controversial law firm Leigh Day that is under investigation over its pursuit of claims against British soldiers who fought in Iraq. Thornberry, who was promoted by Jeremy Corbyn in his reshuffle last night, registered a £14,500 donation from Leigh Day in 2013 in the Commons register of interests.

Earlier this week the law firm was referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) over complaints relating to its handling of legal challenges brought by Iraqi detainees against the MoD. Leigh Day denies the allegations. But as the Daily Mail reported this week:

“It emerged the firm shredded a key document which could have stopped the Al-Sweady inquiry into Iraqi allegations of torture by British troops – and saved taxpayers £31million. It is understood the Solicitors Regulation Authority found the firm had failed to declare, work out, or fully comprehend that detainees they were representing were insurgents and not villagers. They also failed to assess the reliability of claimants whose allegations turned out to be false.”

Lawyers working for Leigh Day will now be quizzed by the tribunal. Defence ministers are furious about the whole business.

This leaves Labour in a potentially awkward position. If the matter is raised in the House of Commons, which it is bound to be, the person who will be at the dispatch box for Labour will be Emily Thornberry, who took a donation from Leigh Day.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX