IT WAS BAD news today for Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat, who has been trying to take a private prosecution against Tony Blair through the British courts. The former Iraqi General alleges that Blair committed a crime when, as Prime Minister, he sent British troops to invade Iraq in 2003. Now the High Court has refused to allow the claim to be heard.
Al Rabbat has been pursuing a complicated legal path in his attempt to bring the former Labour Prime Minister before the Courts. His case is drawn from the Chilcott Report into the Iraq War, which stated that intelligence had been distorted when it was made public and although the Government claimed that Iraq was a danger to the UK, in fact it was premature to draw that conclusion.
Al Rabbat began his case in Westminster Magistrates’ Court last year, claiming that the invasion made Blair guilty of the crime of “aggression” – along with former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.
That Court would not allow the case to go further. The refusal hinged on a ruling made by the House of Lords in 2006 which stated that the crime of “aggression” did not exist in the law in England and Wales.
Al Rabbat’s next step was to ask the High Court to conduct a Judicial Review of that House of Lords decision. The High Court has now refused to conduct a Judicial Review: it is content that the House of Lords had the power to make such a ruling and there would be no prospect of a Judicial Review succeeding, so none will be held.
The current Attorney General was pleased with the finding, pointing out that in British it is Parliament which makes the law – not the Courts.
We are therefore back to Square One. Blair presented a case for invasion to his fellow MPs, to Parliament as a whole and to the British public which was based on intelligence which Chilcott found had “overstated” the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Either the British PM lied about the intelligence or he did not understand it. Whether it was malevolence or incompetence which took the UK into war with Iraq is something which our generation may never know.