Army major who fought in Iraq would rather face war crimes tribunal at The Hague than endure ‘never-ending farce’ of ‘witch hunt’ by UK authorities
- Major Robert Campbell, 46, was cleared over a decade ago of manslaughter
- He was accused of killing Said Shabram, 19, who drowned in Basra in 2003
- Ex-officer is now engulfed in his eighth gruelling inquiry and is exhasperated
A decorated Iraq veteran is prepared to face a war crimes tribunal in the International Criminal Court if it puts an end to the Ministry of Defence’s ‘witch hunt’.
Major Robert Campbell, 46, was cleared more than a decade ago of the manslaughter of 19-year-old Said Shabram, who drowned in a canal in Basra in 2003.
But the officer, whose military service inflicted both physical and psychological scars, continues to be hounded by British authorities who he claims have dragged his reputation through the mud.
As he now stares down the barrel of his eighth inquiry, the exasperated and desperate ex-soldier claimed he would rather appear before The Hague than be dogged by the ‘never-ending farce’.
Major Robert Campbell (pictured during service) is prepared to face a war crimes tribunal in the International Criminal Court if it put an end to the Ministry of Defence’s ‘witch hunt’
The ex-soldier was cleared more than a decade ago of the manslaughter of 19-year-old Said Shabram (pictured), who drowned in a canal in Basra in 2003
‘The ICC investigation would end this once and for all. Britain is incapable of investigating these issues,’ Major Campbell told the Telegraph.
In the blistering attack, he added: ‘This witch hunt never ends. The MoD keeps shifting the goalposts every couple of years.’
Major Campbell’s gruelling 16-year nightmare began in 2003, when he first faced questions from the Royal Military Police.
The findings of this three-year investigation was handed in 2006 to the Army Prosecuting Authority who decided to close the case.
But only two years later Major Campbell found himself under scrutiny from the The Aitken Report.
The Provost Martial then started a new investigation in 2010 – the same time law firm Leigh Day mounted civil action against the MoD on behalf of the teenager’s family.
They were awarded £100,000, although the MoD did not admit liability for the teenager’s death.
As he now stares down the barrel of his eighth inquiry, the exasperated and desperate ex-soldier claimed he would rather appear before The Hague (pictured) than be dogged by the ‘never-ending farce’
In 2014 the taxpayer-funded Iraq Historic Allegations Team took on the case after being passed the file by the now-defunct Public Interest Lawyers.
After he was deemed medically unfit to serve and signed off sick, investigators passed the file to the Service Prosecuting Authority.
It decided in December 2018 that no charges should be brought and Major Campbell thought his ordeal was finally at an end.
Yet another inquiry – the Iraq Fatality Investigations – has since been opened and threatens to drag on until 2021.
Retired High Court judge Sir George Newman chaired the inquiry but, after a year forensically combing through documents, died in June last year age 77.
His successor, former Appeal Court judge Baroness Hallett, has not set a date for any future hearings, leaving Major Campbell in agonising limbo.
He believes the only solution to end the witch hunt is to be cleared in the planet’s most senior war crimes court – the ICC.
Boris Johnson (pictured in Estonia talking to British troops) vowed to protect former servicemen from ‘vexatious claims’ when he entered Number 10 in July
And Major Campbell also thinks that government and military top brass who wielded the decision-making power should be forced to appear too.
He said: ‘If I have to go to the ICC in the Hague then I don’t see why Tony Blair, military leaders and other politicians can’t come as well.’
Major Campbell, who suffers from PTSD, hearing loss and multiple physical injuries, this year told the Mail: ‘Generals and the ministers all sat on their hands while their own soldiers had their careers, marriages, mental health and reputations destroyed.’
Boris Johnson vowed to protect former servicemen from ‘vexatious claims’ when he entered Number 10 in July.
On Armistice Day last November, in the grips of a hotly-contested election campaign, the Prime Minister pledged to amend the Human Rights Act to safeguard veterans from hounding.
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