Friday 23 March 2018

Politicians call for Tony Blair to face trial over his role in taking Britain to war in Iraq

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Shaun Connolly in London

Tony Blair is facing growing calls to be brought to court over his role in taking Britain to war with Iraq following the damning verdict of the Chilcot report.

He has been put on notice by families of dead servicemen that he may face legal action over what flowed from his decision to tell US president George Bush, "I will be with you whatever" eight months before the 2003 invasion.

Meanwhile, shadow Commons leader Paul Flynn said the Iraq inquiry's findings amounted to an "utter condemnation" of Mr Blair's "terrible" decision to commit British troops to the US-led invasion and prosecution of the former statesman should be given "serious consideration".

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said he would like to see Mr Blair investigated by the International Criminal Court for a crime of aggression and face parliamentary action to stop him holding public office again.

Read more: World is better after Iraq war, says Tony Blair

A former British ambassador to the UN has said the UK was "pushed" into entering military action too early by the US.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will face questioning on the implications of the report's devastating findings for Britain's future role in the world when he appears before a Commons committee on Thursday.

A defiant Mr Blair refused to accept accusations from service families that he had been wrong and reckless, as he insisted he would make the decision to go to war again.

Mr Blair's stance was at odds with the report's finding that war was not the last resort, but that Britain triggered military action before all options for a peaceful resolution to the crisis had been exhausted.

Families of some of the 179 military personnel killed in Iraq described the former PM as a "terrorist", and Jeremy Corbyn offered an apology on Labour's behalf for what he described as "a stain on our party and our country".

But Labour leader Mr Corbyn stopped short of calling for his predecessor to be tried for war crimes, as some had expected.

Mr Blair insisted he could look the families - and the nation - in the eye and state that he did not mislead anyone over the invasion, the service personnel did not die in vain, and he was right to do what he did.

The long-delayed Chilcot report insisted Saddam posed "no imminent threat" at the time of the invasion, and the war was unleashed on the basis of "flawed" intelligence.

Irish Independent

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