Lord Chief Justice says there is ‘no prospect’ of the case succeeding
By Samuel Osborne
August 01, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The 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 of committing a “crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
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.
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The general wanted to prosecute Mr Blair and two other key ministers at the time – Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General.
He lives in Muscat, Oman, does not possess a passport and travel to the UK.
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 the land, 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.
Westminster Magistrates Court refused to issue summonses in November last year on the grounds 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 Attorney General intervened in the case and his legal team urged Lord Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley to block the general’s legal challenge on the grounds that it was “hopeless” and unarguable because the crime of aggression is not recognised in English law
The UK was part of a US-led coalition which invaded Iraq after George W Bush and Mr Blair accused Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having links to terrorists.
Michael Mansfield QC, appearing for General Al Rabbat, said at a recent hearing the inquiry into the invasion conducted by Sir John Chilcot, which concluded with a report published in July last year, justified the prosecution of Mr Blair.
Mr Mansfield said the main findings were contained in a paragraph early in the 12-volume report and could be summarised as concluding that Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the interests of the UK, and the intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction had been presented with “unwarranted certainty”.
It also concluded peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted and the war in Iraq was not necessary.
The UK was part of a US-led coalition which invaded Iraq after George W Bush and Mr Blair accused Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having links to terrorists (INA/Getty Images)
Mr Mansfield argued that the international crime of a war of aggression had been accepted by then UK attorney general Sir Hartley Shawcross QC in the 1940s, at the time of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war crimes.
The QC contended that, as the international community had held those responsible for the Second World War to account by prosecuting those thought responsible for aggression at Nuremberg, it was the duty of the UK courts to follow that example in relation to the Iraq War.
The House of Lords decided in the 2006 case of “R v Jones”, which also concerned the Iraq War, that although there was a crime of aggression under customary international law, there was no such crime under English law.
Mr Mansfield argued the Jones case was wrongly decided and permission should be given to allow General Al Rabbat to re-argue the issue before the Supreme Court.
But the High Court ruled: “In our opinion there is no prospect of the Supreme Court holding that the decision in Jones was wrong or the reasoning no longer applicable.”
This article was first published by The Independent –
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