Supreme Court rules on three cases arising from the war on terror

On 17 January the Supreme Court handed down three judgments in cases arising from recent military campaigns. Claims had been brought against the UK Government on matters such as the scope of tort liability and certain Convention rights. The cases focused on the liabilities of the UK government for allegedly tortious acts done either by HM Forces in the course of operations overseas or by foreign governments in which UK officials are alleged to have been complicit.

In the most high profile of the various cases, the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal ruling meaning that former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw faces being sued over allegations of illegal arrest and torture brought by a former Libyan dissident, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj. He alleges that MI6, then under the Ministerial responsibility of Mr Straw, helped the US abduct him in Asia in 2004 to return him and his wife to Tripoli. The BBC reported the outcome under the headline Libyan wins right to sue ex-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

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Combat, claims and the ‘compensation culture’

One of the issues on the new PM’s agenda is, to put it briefly, how to put claims against the UK armed forces on a different footing so as to cut out speculative actions, thereby preventing time and resource being spent on such cases. Taking this sort of action was a clear commitment in the Conservative 2015 Manifesto: “We will ensure our Armed Forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims that undermine their ability to do their job.”

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