Inquiry into Iraq death announced

The Ministry of Defence has announced an inquiry into the death of Iraqi hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, who died in British custody in September 2003.

Des Browne, defence secretary, said: “A public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa is the right thing to do.

“It will reassure the public that we are leaving no stone unturned in investigating his tragic death. The army has nothing to hide in this respect and is keen to learn all the lessons it can from this terrible incident.”

Mr Mousa’s family and lawyers welcomed the move yesterday, after having campaigned for an inquiry since six soldiers were acquitted of his death and one convicted of inhumane treatment.

Phil Shiner, the Mousa family lawyer, said the death was “a disgrace to our nation” and fleshed out some of the details behind the events.

“Behind that particular tragedy are more tragic events,” he said.

“In the same incident, another Iraqi was tortured so badly he nearly died; other Iraqis in this incident were badly abused.”

Chief of the general staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said: “The army expects only the very highest standards from all officers and soldiers and any failure to achieve those standards, however rare, is unacceptable to us.

“We welcome this inquiry, which will help us to understand how and why Mr. Mousa died in our custody. I shall personally ensure that every co-operation is given.”

Liberal Democrat defence Spokesman Nick Harvey questioned why the inquiry had taken so long to establish.

“This announcement is welcome, but long overdue,” he said.

“It has to be asked why the government took so long to decide a full public inquiry is the right way forward.

“Serious questions need to be asked about what training troops were given before they were sent to Iraq.”