The high court has ruled Tony Blair should not face prosecution for his role in the Iraq war. The lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, along with senior judge, Mr Justice Ouseley, said there was no 'crime of aggression' in English law where the former prime minister could be charged. Iraqi general, Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat attempted to bring a private war crimes prosecution against the former Prime Minister with his team of experienced lawyers. The Chilcot inquiry’s conclusion that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and undermined the United Nations, required the prosecution of Tony Blair with the aim to force Blair along with former foreign secretary Jack Straw and the former attorney general Lord Goldsmith to appear in court, answerable to charges. Michael Mansfield QC argued that the international crime of a war of aggression had been accepted by the then UK attorney general Sir Hartley Shawcross QC in the 1940s, at the time of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war crimes. The attorney general, Jeremy Wright QC, intervened in the case on behalf of the government and contended the claim as, quote; ''hopeless!''
Thomas and Ouseley conceded; ''We see the force of Mr Mansfield’s contention that if there is a crime of aggression under international law, there should be a means of prosecuting it as otherwise the rule of law is undermined.'' Prosecution before an international court nonetheless presented “significant practical difficulties” they claimed. The clear principle is that it is for parliament and parliament alone to decide whether there should be a crime of aggression in domestic law. Responding to the judgment, Imran Khan, who represented general Al-Rabbat told the court both he and his client were disappointed with the judgment of the high court which effectively brings to an end any hope's of prosecuting Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Peter Goldsmith for the crime of aggression on the invasion of Iraq.
Despite the clear findings of the Chilcot inquiry which laid bare the conduct of those that should be held to account, the high court has confirmed that there is to be no accountability. Those responsible are to remain unpunished. Mr Khan said the government had been given ''de facto domestic immunity'' because ''as long as it fails to enact legislation which makes the crime of aggression a domestic criminal offence, any leader can act as he/she chooses knowing that whatever action they take, it can be taken with complete impunity.'' Other countries, including Germany, Kosovo, and Serbia, have enacted domestic legislation, said Khan. ''The failure of the British government to give tangible commitment to the prosecution of the crime of aggression undermines the rule of law. It sets a dangerous precedent in times of global insecurity and sets an example to the rest of the world of how to commit the most serious of crimes and get away with it.''
Perhaps now we could, and rightfully should see Parliament introduce legislation to ensure any crimes of agression will extend to face prosecution in a British court of law. Those convicted should face sentences worthy of and benefitting the crime. Of course this ruling today from the high court could also suggest Tony Blair is immune from prosectution. Quite how a British court would proceed with any prosectution in the future remain's to be seen as it could be argued that any Prime Minister facing charges could 'discover' a legal loophole and exploit the British justice system once again. However, at least if Parliament is seen to be complying it will also be seen as fit for purpose, something current British law's are lacking!
Kenneth Walker for Political Provocateur