Govt taken to court over lack of Hit & Run inquiry

Lawyers acting for the Afghan villagers in the area the SAS allegedly targeted in Operation Burnham are taking the Government to court over its refusal to hold an independent inquiry.

"This morning, we filed proceedings in the Wellington High Court on behalf of the villagers," human rights lawyer Deborah Manning told media on Friday.

In their book Hit & Run, Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson claim a New Zealand-led "revenge raid" in 2010 involving Afghan troops and US helicopter gunships killed six villagers and injured 15.

Rodney Harrison, QC, said they wanted a judicial review of the "decision by the Government to decline to hold an independent inquiry into the Operation Burnham events and subsequent cover-up".

They also want a review of the Government's decision to refer calls for an inquiry to the Chief of the Defence Force "who had already taken a position in relation to the overall issue, and was biased".

"What we're seeking is a decision from the court that the refusal of the inquiry was wrong and should be revisited."

Prime Minister Bill English said the timing of the proceedings was suspicious.

"I haven't seen the details, but I'm not surprised that something like this may come up pre-election," he told Newshub.

"Look, I'm sure there's an element of people trying to put on some political pressure… You always expect something from Mr Hager in the run-up to the election."

But lawyer Richard MCLeod said it's taken a while since the publication of Hit & Run because of "logistical issues" with their clients in Afghanistan and "waiting for various parts of information from the Government". 

"Our clients are living in a very difficult security situation," added Ms Manning. "In cases like this, logistics often dictate timeframes."

Ms Manning says the villagers are still suffering the consequences of that night in 2010.