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UK attorney-general 'could block Iraq War case against Blair'

A private prosecution is accusing Tony Blair of the crime of 'aggression' [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 April, 2017

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Moves are reportedly being made to reject a private prosecution being brought against former British prime minister Tony Blair over his role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Britain's top government lawyer is prepared to shield former UK prime minister Tony Blair against prosecution for his role in the Iraq War, a new report says.

The move being prepared follows a ruling from 2016 that said that the former prime minister has immunity from criminal charges over the 2003 war, The Guardian reported.

The London-based newspaper says it has seen legal documents that show that Wright has been formally
asked to attend future hearings that will aim to reject a private prosecution brought against Blair.

A private prosecution is being attempted against Blair, former foreign secretary Jack straw and former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith for the crime of "aggression".

"It's not unusual for the attorney general to intervene in cases in order to represent the public interest," a spokesman for Wright told the Press Association.

"He has sought to intervene in this case because it raises important issues about the scope of the criminal law."

The private prosecution is based on the conclusions of the Chilcot report into the UK's decision to intervene in Iraq, The Guardian reported. Among other things, the report found that Britain resorted to a military solution before peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. The report concluded that military action was "not a last resort".

In the report, Blair is also accused of deliberately exaggerating the threat posed by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his attempts to garner support for war. 

Wright has allegedly said that the case is hopeless, since the crime of aggression does not exist in English law.

A memo from 2003, however, suggests that then-Attorney General Goldsmith acknowledged one of the key points being made by those looking to prosecute the former PM.

"Aggression is a crime under customary international law which automatically forms part of domestic law," Goldsmith wrote in the memo dating to March of that year.

"It might therefore be argued that international aggression is a crime recognised by the common law which can be prosecuted in the UK courts," he added.



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