Contributed from Victoria
The British High Court has heard that the Chilcot inquiry concluded that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and that it undermined the United Nations, and goes on to suggest that former prime minister Tony Blair, should be prosecuted.
This came out in the opening argument, where Michael Mansfield QC, argued for a war crime trial.
The Chilcot report was published last year.
Mansfield said, “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.”
He said that under English law it is an offense to wage such a war.
People are now asking whether the political establishment allow the prosecution to take place and whether this attitude will be conveyed through the judiciary?
The effort to bring Tony Blair to trial also includes former foreign secretary Jack Straw and the former attorney general Lord Goldsmith. They were the key ministers in the Blair government and played leading roles in the decision to go to war.
The original application to launch a prosecution was dismissed by the magistrate’s court in Westminster, on the grounds that as former prime minister, Blair enjoys immunity and that there is no crime for aggression in British law.
The present case before the High Court is an appeal against the magistrate’s court decision.
There is a sound precedent in that Britain had participated in the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials at the end of World War Two, on the assumption that the crime of aggression had been assimilated into British.
However, the current attorney general, Jeremy Wright, of the Conservative government, has intervened in the new hearing to counter this and supports Blair.
It is feared that if a prosecution should proceed and be successful there will be implications for other British heads of state.
The case is being heard by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and Mr Justice Ouseley. There is considerable doubt about the objectivity of the court.
But , public opinion has shifted decisively against the justification for the war and the political establishment no longer wants to be connected to the resulting fallout. This is backed by a vigorous public campaign for prosecution.
There isstark contrast between what is going on in Britain and the situation in Australia. The then Australian prime minister, John Howard followed and did the same as Blair and The president of the United States, George W Bush in the United States.
Australia has not even had a pretense of an inquiry, even though it is readily admitted that the reason for going to war was false. The Australian public was also lied to, in order to justify an act of aggression against another nation.
Should the prosecution of Blair succeed against the odds, it will strengthen the case for bringing John Howard to justice.
This is important. As a nation we need to draw the lessons and do what we can to avoid repeating history.