Blair Can Be Tried For War Crimes 123

There is no requirement in international law for the appropriate jurisdiction of a tribunal – or even the tribunal itself – to be in place before a crime is committed, in order for it to try that crime. The most obvious evidence of this is the Nuremburg Tribunal, which did not even exist when the crimes which it tried were committed. But in fact international law has a long tradition of arbitration or judgement by bodies which were set up after the event, but judging by the law applicable at the time of the event. It is the crime itself which must be a crime at the time it is committed. The jurisdiction of the body which tries the criminal can be created after the crime itself.

Total nonsense has been written widely that it would be retroactive law, and thus unacceptable, for Tony Blair to be tried at the Hague for the crime of waging aggressive war. But the crime itself was very plainly already in existence when Blair committed it.

Indeed, Blair apologists claim that the Statute of Rome of 1998, which set up the International Criminal Court, means that Blair cannot face trial because it specifically exempts aggressive war from the jurisdiction of the court. But in fact that is the opposite of the truth. The Statute of Rome unequivocally confirms the existence of the crime of waging aggressive war. It states that the tribunal “shall not exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression”. That is in itself sufficient evidence that the international community reconfirmed the existence of the crime of aggression in 1998, shortly before Blair committed it in 2003.

It just means that at present the crime has to be prosecuted somewhere else. The FCO’s Legal Advisers, a department of extremely able professional international lawyers, unanimously believed the invasion of Iraq was an act of aggressive war, as plainly told to Chilcot by their then Head Sir Michael Wood.

If the Hague tribunal obtains, as expected, power to cover this crime, there is no reason in principle why it should not investigate such crimes which were committed before it had that jurisdiction. Except that we can be sure that the British government will ensure there is a clause in the agreement forbidding that. Then there is the fact that Blair is not a black African and has never been bombed by NATO. Nobody who fails to meet those criteria will ever be tried at the Hague.

Blair is a war criminal. He can be tried by n international tribunal, or he can, more satisfactory still, be tried in the UK. The attempts of his defenders to claim it is impossible technically to try him gives some sign how desperate they have become. Aggressive war was a crime at the time he committed it.

Tomorrow the Chilcot whitewash will be liberally splashed around. I do strongly recommend that you buy and read Peter Oborne’s Not the Chilcot Report to get the real picture.

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123 thoughts on “Blair Can Be Tried For War Crimes

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      • Bright Eyes

        No. I name them for the havoc and the killing and the maiming and for the destabilization of the two countries and consequently, that of the region which they caused.

  • jives

    OT but Sarah Vine’s Wikipedia page has been edited in the last few days,all her background info gone.Who actually is she? A plant? A Lady Macbeth Trojan?


  • Bert.

    I think the problem that arises here is that the Human Right that one cannot be subject to trial for something that was not a crime at the time of the alleged act is also a part of the progress we hope to have made since the obscenities of WWII. We cannot conveniently choose when to apply the principles which we claim to hold so dear.

    I was not happy when something similar was applied to Pinoche; but I accepted that the judges were right to have take the position they did.

    But Blair was a war criminal from day on. There were legal staff walking out f the Foreign Office because they would not take part in rigging the interpretation of the law; there were lawyers writing to the newspapers saying that it was illegal … and above all; BLAIR SI A LAWYER. He knew it was illegal on day one and ever since.

    He is a slime-ball (I read your notes the other day Craig. I am not playing the man; I am playing the slime-ball ;-)) and should, like Rudolph Hess spend the rest of his days behind bars – and his wealth should be split up and given the families of those who were murdered by Blair’s illegality.


    • Martinned

      If we assume (hope?) that war crimes are ultra vires the powers of the Prime Minister, there is nothing to stop the victims from suing Blair for damages.

  • Martinned

    I’m not sure that Nuremberg is such a good precedent to cite for lex certa. I think the consensus in the legal community is that the Allies were a bit naughty there, but that that was justified by the extraordinary circumstances.

    In general, for your argument to fly, lex certa/nulla poena/etc would require that the crime of aggression were defined in some statute or treaty before Blair allegedly committed it. And since, to my knowledge, it wasn’t, he can’t be prosecuted.

    • nevermind

      What seems to be forgotten is that we have victims and surviving families who are demanding some sort of justice.
      For lawyers to argue that we can’t really prosecute Blair when we clearly were able to do so in the past, is evasive and self defeatist. A judicial system that does not stand up for the innocent dead who lost their lives, for negligence, false reasoning and bad preparedness with no care shown for the aftermath of this debacle, when politicians planned to leave a deliberate chaos behind, is astonishingly brutal and leviathan.

      Those found to be implemented in this nightmare we have unleashed, when all our EU partners warned us and said it was not a good idea, when numerous noises were made here and when excellent civil servants resigned due to the force that was levered against these alarming voices, they should be held responsible and brought to justice in the Hague.

      Straw, Blair and D.Milliband should be held responsible for what they have sown, the least those victims deserve.

      • Martinned

        So we should prosecute people in violation of some of the most basic principles of criminal justice so that we can have, euh, justice?

        • Ba'al Zevul

          I don’t think anyone’s saying that, Martinned. Lord Goldsmith was extremely uncertain about the legality of the proposed war, and could not guarantee that a future court would not rule against it, either to our government or to the Dutch, to whom he also provided a (slightly different) opinion.

          Both before and after the invasion, Dutch scrutiny and debate went far deeper than ours, and was far more democratic – result here –

          • Martinned

            O, on balance the war was probably illegal. But that doesn’t mean that someone can be prosecuted for starting it. To take a mundane example: if some government civil servant gives some company a permit to build a factory somewhere when, following judicial review, it turns out that they shouldn’t have, that doesn’t mean that the civil servant can be prosecuted for mucking up the environment. And that’s not just a matter of good faith/bad faith, but also a question of whether there is a statute authorising prosecution in the first place.

          • Martinned

            Then prosecute him for the Abu Graib torture. That was a clearly defined offence in national and international law at the time it was committed.

  • TJ

    Tony Blair has committed plenty of crimes under English Law for which he could be tried. For example, under the Terrorism Act it is an offense to try to overthrow a foreign government, unless the person is part of the government, in which case they have Crown Immunity. So when Cherie Blair telephoned MPs to get them to vote for the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein government she committed that offense. Tony Blair committed the offenses of Conspiracy, and Aiding and Abetting by providing her with the phone numbers and helping her commit the offense, also under the Terrorism Act it is an offense to not inform the police when you know an offense under the Terrorism Act is going to be committed, so that constitutes another offense Tony Blair committed. The police have known of all this since the offenses were committed and have at the very least conspired to Pervert the Course of Justice in these matters. While a private criminal prosecution is possible the CPS can Pervert the Course of Justice by taking over the case and dropping it as with Jack Straws case. Therefore I see no possibility of justice being served while the police and CPS continue to exist.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Very unfortunately, the Terrorism Act wasn’t drafted until 2005. And convicting people retrospectively is something of a no-no here. Conspiracy to commit murder might do it, though.

      • TJ

        It is the Terrorism Act 2000 I am referring too. Richard Perle who came to this country to argue in public for overthrowing the Iraqi government was at the time of his speech regarded as having committed the offense under the Terrorism Act 2000 and there were calls for him to be arrested on those grounds, he was however allowed to leave the country and he has not been back.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          Apologies. However, I think you are being overoptimistic. The discretion of the CPS, is effective, among other things, in weeding out trivial from serious instances of criminality. And both Tony and his fragrant consort are lawyers. The latter might say that she was merely relaying her husband’s opinion – plainly true. Or she might claim to be an emanation of the Crown herself – an almost undefinable status. The law is so woolly, as far as I can see, that it would be very difficult and expensive to catch her.

          Politics – and bringing Blair to book – is the art of the possible.

    • Mark Golding

      Today is retribution. The British people’s atonement. Blair must be indicted for war crimes. The living can hear the voices of the dead Iraqi children. The babies and toddlers burnt to death by the fire of our weapons while silently enjoying their breakfast March 2003.

    • Salford Lad

      Who do we convict for taking us to war in Libya and Syria. We have reduced both to failed states.
      Cameron is just as culpable as Blair for war mongering and following Washingtons disastrous Foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan.. Yugoslavia, Ukraine,Somalia, Libya and Yemen.

    • TJ

      Cherie Blair was acting in a personal capacity as the wife of Tony Blair at the time, all contemporaneous accounts and statements show this to be the case, and this evidence has been immortalized in the media of the time. As for the CPS, they are not referred to as the Criminal Protection Service for nothing.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I don’t doubt it. But she could argue rings round a terrorism charge. And that still wouldn’t catch Tony. Who could conceivably write to the court (he’s far too important to appear in person) that he’d asked her to do it. Waste of time.

        • TJ

          I do not follow, please explain how given both the letter of the law and the overwhelming evidence how could she mount a successful defense? Also given the Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce case, how would Tony asking her be a defense?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Blair has announced that he will be blairing later and at length: one intriguing line will be that the Shi’a / Sunni hostility was in existence before the invasion so he wasn’t to blame for what followed. Yes, Tony. There was a well-known rivalry and you removed all the obstructions to its becoming an armed conflict. Knowingly, as you now acknowledge. We note you were careful not to do that in NI. Hey, the IRA would have welcomed you with flowers…for five minutes…

    • Martinned

      You’re right, they would have been much better off keeping their dictatorship!

      (Not that that’s a legally acceptable excuse for going to war, but stupid comments occasionally simply annoy me.)

      • Ba'al Zevul

        You’re presumably being facetious. By what measure, including deaths, the permanent destruction of infrastructure, and regional stability, was Iraq any worse off? Quite apart from providing (I’m sure this will appeal to you) a buffer against the notorious designs of the evil Iranians against sweet little Israel?

        Anyway, this just in from Chilcot, now speaking:

        Chilcot: Blair deliberately exaggerated threat from Iraqi regime
        Heather Stewart

        Heather Stewart

        Tony Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by the Iraqi regime as he sought to make the case for military action to MPs and the public in the build-up to the invasion in 2002 and 2003, the Chilcot Inquiry has found.

        In his forensic account of the way Blair and his ministers built the case for military action, Chilcot finds the then Labour prime minister, who had promised US president George Bush, “I will be with you, whatever,” disregarded warnings about the potential consequences of military action; and relied too heavily on his own beliefs, rather than the more nuanced judgements of the intelligence services.

        In particular, Chilcot identifies two separate, key occasions in the build-up to the conflict, against the background of mass protests on the streets of London by the Stop the War coalition, when Blair appears to have overplayed the threat from Iraq – and underplayed the risks of invasion.

        “In the House of Commons on 24 September 2002, Mr Blair presented Iraq’s past, current and future capabilities as evidence of the severity of the potential threat from Iraq’s WMD[weapons of mass destruction]. He said that, at some point in the future, that threat would become a reality,” Chilcot says.

        But Chilcot argues instead that: “The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities in that statement, and in the dossier published the same day, were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”

        The inquiry finds that the report, which subsequently became notorious as the “dodgy dossier,” was deliberately aimed at maximising the perceived threat from Iraq.

        The foreword, in which the prime minister said he believed intelligence “established beyond doubt,” that Saddam Hussein was continuing to produce chemical and biological weapons, and hoped to produce nuclear weapons, was “grounded in what Mr Blair believed, rather than in the judgements which the Joint Intelligence Committee had actually reached in its assessment of the intelligence”, Chilcot finds.

        Separately, Chilcot contrasts the powerful language used by Blair to the House of Commons on 18 March 2003, when he was making the case for military action to sceptical MPs, with the more nuanced picture presented by intelligence at the time.

        As this is far more interesting than you are, you’ll have to excuse me for a bit.

        • Martinned

          They were being ruled by a brutal dictator. In what universe is that preferable to what they have now?

          As for Israel, they can take care of themselves. (Not to mention that the last time they got shot at from that direction, it was Saddam, not Iran.)

          • Ba'al Zevul

            Sorry, sport, you’ll have to think that one through for yourself. (Pop over to Fallujah and take a look for yourself, why don’t you?)

            Chilcot’s showing every sign of having read Blair correctly right now:

            Chilcot says the inquiry does not accept Blair’s claim that it was impossible to predict post-invasion problems

            Chilcot is now talking about the planning for after the war.

            He says the risks to British troops were not properly identified, or flagged up to ministers.

            Cabinet did not discuss the military options or their implications, he says.

            He says the government thought the post-conflict administration would be UN-led. But the US did not agree, and so instead the UK decided to get the US to accept UN authorisation of a coalition-led administration.

            Blair told the inquiry the problems encountered after the invasion could not have been known in advance.

            Chilcot says the inquiry does not accept Blair’s claim that it was impossible to predict the post-invasion problems. Those problems were anticipated, he says.

  • Tony M

    Truth is we’ve had a long succession of war criminal PMs. Still alive are John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

    Years of sanctions, beginning before the invasion of Iraq originally in 1991, on through till 2003 are conservatively estimated to have killed more than 1.5 million people, including half-a-million children starved to death, killed by lack of basic medical care or contamination of or breakdown of water supply and sewage treatment, before Blair’s invasion took place. The charges against Major and Blair particularly should be of genocide, if either of them had an ounce of decency, they’d do humanity a favour and top themselves. I don’t believe in ‘only following orders’ defences either, every single member of the armed forces, from desk johnnies in London to the lowliest Private who set foot there are culpable and guilty to varying degrees.

    Start with John Major, work up to the present day, ending with Cameron for Libya and Syria.

  • Tfs

    Your problem craig is that the crime of aggression was not defined within the statue of 1998.

    The definition was not agreed until much later. It’s a cop out for Blair.

  • Tony M

    I should amend ‘killed by lack of basic medical care’, to ‘killed by lack of basic medical equipment and supplies’, the medics, subject to the same conditions inimical to their own lives, done the best they could in the terrible circumstances we helped create. On its own without its coalition of sicko hanger-on satelites, the US would not have got away with it, or dared try. In the background too lurks Israel, which now must not even be mentioned, erased from the pages of history after all, ever pushing their insane genocidal agenda where it doesn’t belong.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    One aspect which the media are keeping away from today is that Iraq’s purpose was regime change, and the rest of the deception re. WMD’s were necessary to keep this from the UK consciousness. Also (as the Dutch noticed, but we didn’t) the Security Council would not have endorsed regime change per se…this would have been against the UN Charter. Old Irish article applies:

    The “clever plan” was to persuade the Security Council to pass a resolution demanding that Iraq readmit UN inspectors, but on terms that would make it impossible for Saddam Hussein to accept – in which case, there would be a good possibility that the Security Council would authorise military action, ostensibly to disarm Iraq, and, as a byproduct, the Iraqi regime would be overthrown.

    Evidence that this was the strategy to be employed is to be found in Sir Christopher Meyer’s memo, where he wrote that if the US “wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam”. He continued: “I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors … ”.

    The leaked minutes of a high powered meeting on Iraq in Downing Street on 23 July 2002 provide further evidence. There, Tony Blair is recorded as saying:

    “… it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. … If the political context were right, people would support regime change.”

    Clearly, Tony Blair was looking forward to Saddam Hussein keeping UN inspectors out, even though the peaceful disarmament of Iraq required their admission. Consistent with this, when on 16 September 2002 Iraq stated its willingness to allow UN inspectors back in, the US and the UK blocked their re-entry.

    In early October 2002, the US/UK proposed a draft resolution to the Security Council, which, in keeping with the “clever plan”, was designed to set terms for the re-admission of UN inspectors that Iraq couldn’t accept – and authorised military action if admission was refused.

    However, the US/UK draft resolution wasn’t passed. Instead, it was amended to remove the terms that would have been unacceptable to Iraq and the authorisation for military action. This amended resolution was passed as resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002, and UN inspectors returned to Iraq.

    The “clever plan” to “wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors” had failed – and the military action planned by the US/UK to overthrow his regime had to proceed without authorisation by the Security Council.

    Blair was insisting to anyone who would listen that this wasn’t about regime change, but it was, he knew full well it was, and to obtain the notional cover he needed, he lied through his teeth. Knowingly.

  • John Goss

    Thank you for that information Craig. Makes sense. When we get a proper government under Jeremy Corbyn it would be the appropriate time to push something that then has a chance of success.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Why, John: you surely do not think that the interests of justice are influenced by the political complexion of the Government 😉

  • Sahar



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