Saturday 17 March 2018

UK court blocks Iraqi general's attempt to sue Blair over invasion

Former British PM Tony Blair. Photo: PA
Former British PM Tony Blair. Photo: PA

Ben Farmer

The British High Court has blocked a bid by a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army to bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair over the Iraq war.

General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat has accused Mr Blair, while UK prime minister, of committing a "crime of aggression" by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow President Saddam Hussein.

The general wanted to prosecute Mr Blair and two other key ministers at the time - foreign secretary Jack Straw and attorney general Peter Goldsmith.

His lawyers asked London's High Court for permission to seek judicial review in an attempt to get the Supreme Court, now the highest court in Britiain, to overturn a ruling by the House of Lords in 2006 that there is no such crime as the crime of aggression under the law of England and Wales.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, and Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed the general's application, saying there was "no prospect" of the case succeeding.

Delivering a written judgment, he said the court had taken the view that: "Because of a decision by the House of Lords binding in this court, there is no crime of aggression under domestic UK law."

He also said there was no prospect of the Supreme Court reversing the decision.

Westminster Magistrates' Court refused to issue summonses in November last year on the grounds that the ex-ministers had immunity from legal action, and in any event the current Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, would have to give consent.

The general applied to the High Court in London for a judicial review of the magistrates' court decision.

He lives in Muscat, Oman, does not possess a passport and cannot travel to the UK.

The UK was part of the coalition led by the US which invaded Iraq after US president George W Bush and Mr Blair accused Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having links to terrorists.

Irish Independent

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