The disgraced lawyer who led the witch hunt against Iraq war veterans hid assets including houses and even guitars to avoid paying his £7 million debts.
Phil Shiner, who has already been struck off for dishonesty, spent six months transferring properties, limited edition guitars and artwork before finally declaring himself bankrupt.
Shiner, 61, was paid millions of pounds by the taxpayer – through legal aid and in court costs – to bring thousands of cases, many of them bogus, against British troops for alleged abuse, including claims of unlawful killing of Iraqis.
Now the Insolvency Service has uncovered a series of financial deals struck by Shiner before he went bust to avoid paying his huge debts. It has extended his bankruptcy to six years following his “unacceptable behaviour”.
The Insolvency Service discovered a trail that included transferring ownership of his £300,000 house in Birmingham and two guitars he valued at £3,500, to a family trust in December 2016. The terms of the trust allowed him to live in the property. He also sold two commercial buildings for a total of £550,000, transferring the money to his now defunct law firm Public interest lawyers. According to the Insolvency Service, he then took at least £170,000 out of the law firm to top up his pension by almost £95,000, putting the rest into a family trust.
Justin Dionne, Official Receiver from the Insolvency Service, said: “Mr Shiner thought he could be clever by giving away his assets to his family members so that when he declared himself bankrupt there wasn’t anything to pay his creditors with.
“Sadly he was mistaken as all his activities were easily spotted and we have since been able to recover a substantial amount of money, even if it was in his family’s name.
“Mr Shiner’s activities should serve as a lesson and act as a deterrent to him and others from acting in the same way.”
The Insolvency Service has recovered £483,538 but revealed that Shiner’s outstanding debts stand at just under £6.5 million.
Shiner brought more than 3,000 criminal complaints against British troops in the aftermath of the Iraq war. The allegations led to the Government setting up the Iraq Historic Allegations team (Ihat) which was finally shut down last year following a public outcry. Ministers are now under pressure to close another inquiry – the Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) unit – which is examining suspicious deaths from 15 years ago.
Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, a former Army captain who has campaigned against the ‘witch hunt’ of British troops, said: “I have always thought of Phil Shiner as a modern day traitor. It is the result of people like Shiner’s misguided and sometimes deliberately dishonest efforts, why this ridiculous process continues some 15 years on. The Defence Secretary must shut IFI down.”
Major Robert Campbell, who is facing an eighth inquiry over the death of an Iraqi who drowned in 2003 in a case in which shiner was involved, said: “The MoD was very, very generous to Phil Shiner who concocted stories against British soldiers. But when it came to legal assistance for soldiers like me they have split hairs.”
When Shiner applied for bankruptcy last year, a Telegraph investigation disclosed how he had sold one of his homes to his two daughters just a few weeks before.
Shiner’s law firm Public Interest lawyers, of which he was sole director, folded in August 2016 after the Legal Aid Agency cut off its funding.
Shiner was subsequently investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and struck off. He owes £500,000 in costs to the legal watchdog.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/26/disgraced-iraq-lawyer-phil-shiner-hid-houses-even-guitars-bid/