9 September 2008
Tomorrow, Wednesday 10 September, three former employees of the British in Iraq will argue in the High Court that they were unlawfully excluded from the Scheme set by the Government in recognition of their duty of care to employees.[i]
The Scheme was set up by David Miliband in October 2007 in response to widespread public outcry at the way in which interpreters and other former employees had been left in the lurch by the British with their lives at risk from hostile militias who view them as collaborators.[ii]
The three fled their jobs and Iraq after receiving specific threats from the militias and have been refused entry onto the Scheme for reasons ranging from the fact that they did not resign through the proper channels to failure to complete a full 12 months service. One individual fled after his father, a longstanding employee, was tortured and murdered and his home attacked. He worked with his father but has been refused because he was only formally employed for 5 months before the murder.
Richard Stein of Leigh Day & Co, who represents the group of Iraqis said: “This is a classic example of the Government seeking to put to bed a political problem without any due consideration for the human story which caused the problem. The Scheme is arbitrary, disingenuous and patently unfair. It should be quashed and replaced with a scheme which takes true account of the debt owed to these men and their families.”
For more information please contact Jamie Beagent
on 020 7650 1240
[i] The hearing will take place in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand. The Court number and time of the hearing will be announced on the Court Service website
on the afternoon of the 9 September: The claimants have been anonymised to protect them from reprisals. The case will be listed as “The Queen on the application of WA, AA & CK-v-The Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs – CO/2175/08”. A copy of the Claimants’ legal arguments can be downloaded from www.leighday.co.uk
On 9 October 2007 David Miliband announced the Locally Employed Staff Assistance Scheme (“the Scheme”) in response to widespread public outrage, much of it emanating from the soldiers who had worked alongside these brave individuals. The UK was seen to be abandoning its former employees to their fate. On 8 August 2007 Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, conceded that the UK had a duty of care towards those employees but pressure continued to mount until Miliband’s announcement.
The Locally Employed Staff Assistance Scheme (“the Scheme”) would have enabled them to relocate to the UK with their families or receive a cash payment instead.
The announcement was clearly intended to deflect this criticism and appeared to do its job. However, when the full details of the Scheme were announced on 30 October 2007 it became apparent that it had been drafted far more narrowly than the impression that had been given. These fears have been realised and Leigh Day & Co have been contacted by a large number of former Iraqi interpreters and other employees who have been rejected from the Scheme, the majority of them now destitute in Syria having fled Iraqi.
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