Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Nibbling Away at Tony Blair

The English High Court is hearing an appeal that seeks to have Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Lord Goldsmith tried for war crimes in attacking Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The Chilcot inquiry’s conclusion that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and undermined the United Nations requires the prosecution of Tony Blair, the high court has heard.

In his opening argument calling for a war crimes trial in Britain, Michael Mansfield QC said that the offence of waging an aggressive war has effectively been assimilated into English law.

Mansfield summarised the report’s findings as: “Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the UK, intelligence reporting about [Iraqi] weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that the war was unnecessary and that the UK undermined the authority of the UN security council.”

“Nothing could be more emphatic than these findings,” he said. “It was an unlawful war.”

Mansfield argued that when British prosecutors had opened their cases at the Nuremburg war crimes trials at the end of the second world war, they had acted as though the crime of aggression had already been assimilated into English law.

The British government has interceded to oppose the appeal citing the ancient Saxon doctrine of "piffle." Besides, they say, war crimes are only for losers and Tony Blair, while discredited, ain't there yet.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the British government has chosen to argue that the crime of aggression does not exist in English law. If correct, that would undermine the legality of the Nuremberg trials and potentially set a dangerous precedent. If false, the Crown would appear to have interfered in a private prosecution on specious grounds in order to shield Blair. In other words, a lose-lose situation.

Like the AGs in Canada, the DPP in England has the power to take over a private prosecution and then withdraw the information. It would have been easier to allow the prosecution to proceed at magistrates court, then have the DPP take over. If the high court now rules that the prosecution should proceed, the DPP will appear to be acting in bad faith if intervenes and drops the charges. Not that acting in bad faith has ever stopped the British government when it wanted to avoid accountability for international wrongdoing, see e.g. the treatment of the Chagos Islanders.


The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the thoughtful insights, Cap. I really do appreciate people who put that sort of effort into their comments. A worthwhile and appreciated contribution.