'DAMAGE IS ALREADY DONE' British Iraq war hero says abuse slurs haunt him despite disgraced
The young dad, who led his men into the Battle of Danny Boy, said Shiner had 'punished' troops
A BRITISH Sergeant who was one of those accused of made-up war crimes by tank-chasing lawyer Phil Shiner has said the lying solicitor being struck off yesterday is a "small win" but the damage to the troops who served their country in Iraq "has already been done".
Sgt Brian Wood of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, who led soldiers into the Battle of Danny Boy in Iraq in 2004, appeared on television to speak out about how wicked Shiner's lies affected him and his men.
Appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain, an emotional Sgt Wood said yesterday's decision by finding the tank-chasing legal aid lawyer guilty of a dozen misconduct charges during a shameful spree that saw him personally pocket millions was a "small win" but had come too little too late.
The “human rights” solicitor, 59, cost taxpayers tens of millions by pursuing concocted claims on behalf of Iraqis. On Thursday he was condemned by his profession’s watchdog.
Speaking on the programme today, Sgt Wood said: "It was a mixture of emotions. I was shaking with the adrenaline. It is a small win in the bigger picture because the damage has been done and will always stay. It helps to know now that there has been something put in place to stop this happening to our troops going forward."
The soldier said Phil Shiner's cooked up stories have had a devastating effect on his pals' careers and many have since suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
On May 14, 2004, Sgt Wood, then a commander aged just 23, led his men into battle in "probably the most violent situation in contemporary warfare".
He said the enemy were close, and were heavily dug in, when he got the command to leave the 33 tonne armoured vehicle they had some relative protection in and face the militia in hand to hand combat - the first time troops had had to do so in such a situation since the Second World War.
He said: "In my last position before we went into the main position there were 15-20 militia with serious weapon systems engaging us and I realised these were human beings but I had to do my job.
"As we went in it changed from full violence to a number of them surrendering very quickly.
"You are making decisions in extreme circumstances and have to make that split second judgement when there are lives at stake and that is very demanding and I was only a 23-year-old junior commander.
"To do it without sustaining casualties, we must have had someone looking down on us as I don't understand how we didn't lose anyone."
The dad-of-two, who left his first child at the age of just four weeks to go to war, said he "had be the voice of the guys who were with me that day because they won't have this opportunity".
He added: "I went away a loving new dad and I came back scarred, damaged goods really."
Speaking about the verdict by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, Sgt Wood added: "I don't know how I coped. I took on young kids' sports coaching, I cycled across America to raise funds for injured soldiers. But he punished us. In a way, no-one will ever know what he did to us."
Shiner, who claimed he was too ill to attend the probe, was facing ruin.
He has been ordered to pay £250,000 towards the costs of the hearing. And the Ministry of Defence and Legal Aid Authority are free to demand their cash back.
That is just a fraction of the bill he landed taxpayers after his fake claims of murder and torture fuelled two massive inquiries.
One, the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (Ihat), has cost £57million to date probing 3,281 allegations against vets.
Not a single prosecution has resulted — after lawsuits Shiner pursued were rumbled as “wholly baseless” and “calculated lies”.
Another probe, the five-year Al-Sweady public inquiry, cost £25million. It focused on claims made against Brit troops after the Battle of Danny Boy, when they were ambushed in 2004.
Heroes he accused of murder and mistreating captives were found to be innocent.
Yesterday Tory MP and former Army officer Johnny Mercer said: “For too long we have been dancing to Phil Shiner’s tune.
“It’s about time we refocus on the soldiers who have been dragged through the mud. That should now close down.”
Shiner was also slated by Gen Sir Mike Jackson, ex head of the British Army.
He said: “A lot of soldiers and their families have been living under a dreadful shadow of his creation.”
The lawyer’s convictions came after he admitted nine misconduct charges. The watchdog heard he recklessly touted for business in Iraq. He also acted dishonestly by paying his chief fixer “sweeteners” to change evidence to the Al-Sweady inquiry.
The Iraqi — Mazin Younis, 59 — had been paid £500 for every case he could drum up against British soldiers.
More than £3million was forked out in legal aid to Shiner’s now-defunct Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers.
Another law firm accused of cashing in to the tune of £4.3million — Leigh Day — faces a Solicitors Regulation Authority hearing this year.
Meanwhile Shiner could face fraud charges.
Andrew Tabachnik, counsel for the SRA, described his antics as of a “criminal standard”.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said after the verdict: “Justice has finally been served. Phil Shiner made soldiers’ lives a misery.”