Courts Martial Success


Four members of Thomas More Chambers were instructed in the recent “Iraq war crimes trial” of British soldiers.


Geoffrey Cox QC leading Richard Cross and Jeremy Baker QC leading Fiona Edington, all of Thomas More Chambers, represented two soldiers of the former Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, charged with war crimes or assault. They were prosecuted for events that took place in Basra, Iraq in 2003 when the regiment had detained ten Iraqi civilians, one of whom later died in custody. The trial has attracted huge interest in the national and international media.


The case was of exceptional interest. The prosecution followed an enormous investigation by the Royal Military Police and was announced by the Attorney General in Parliament in 2005. It was the first trial of British soldiers to face allegations of war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001.


Because of its seriousness, it was the first Court Martial to be tried before a High Court Judge, Mr. Justice McKinnon, sitting as a Judge Advocate. Because of the rank of a co-defendant, the Board (or jury) was the most eminent in history, comprising four full colonels, two brigadiers and a major general. It was also the first trial in the armed forces’ sophisticated new Court Martial Trial Centre at Bulford Camp, Salisbury Plain.


The trial started in September 2006. On 14th February 2007, in the twenty second week of the case, Mr. Justice McKinnon ruled in favour of extensive submissions of no case to answer made at the close of the prosecution case by Geoffrey Cox, Richard Cross, Jeremy Baker and Fiona Edington and by other defendants.