NEWS

Tony Blair Targeted By Lawyers Combing The Chilcot Report For Grounds To Prosecute Him

The first stage of investigations is already complete.

17/08/2016 15:34
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Over £150,000 has been donated to fund lawyers' work into discovering how to prosecute the former PM

Tony Blair is being targeted by at least half a dozen lawyers who are combing the recently-released Chilcot report to find new grounds to prosecute him. 

Reg Keys, whose son Tom Keys was killed in the Iraq War, revealed they were “drilling down” into the 2.6 million-word report after a successful £150,000 crowd-funding campaign to pay for the work.

The Iraq War Families Campaign Group launched the fundraiser on July 19 and despite passing its target, money has continued to roll in, now totalling £159,000 from more than 5,100 donors.

That cash is funding a forensic legal analysis of the Chilcot report to establish whether a case can brought against Blair or any of his allies “who might have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers”.

Keys, who has led the campaign with fellow bereaved father Roger Bacon, told the Press Association: “We’re hopeful the next time you see us, it’ll be at the Royal Courts of Justice to bring a civil prosecution over this debacle.”

Andrew Aitchison via Getty Images
If tried, Tony Blair would have to appear at the Royal Courts of Justice

He added that the first stage of work by a team of lawyers from London-based McCue and Partners had already been completed.

The cash appeal came weeks after Sir John Chilcot tore into Blair and other leading British officials over their actions before, during and after the war that saw 179 British service personnel killed.

Keys said: “The first instalment of work is already over. About one week ago the lawyers completed a breakdown of the areas they would be looking at.

“We’ve had that breakdown - but it’s got to be a water-tight argument.”

Between six and eight lawyers are working through the lengthy report with Keys hopeful the families can fulfil their vow to “bring to justice those responsible for the war and the deaths of our loved ones”.

He revealed the campaign had taken inspiration from the fight by the bereaved Hillsborough families and the successful civil court action bought by loved ones of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombings.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive
Reg Keys' son Tom died in 2003

Keys commented: “I feel good. We’re back on the road again at last, things have not come to a stagnant end. The fight goes on.”

The 64-year-old retired paramedic from Hollywood, Birmingham, added: “The truth does have a habit of bubbling up.”

Sir John Chilcot’s report strongly criticised the way Blair took the country to war in 2003 on the basis of “flawed” intelligence with inadequate preparation at a time when Saddam Hussein did not pose an “imminent threat”.

It also said the way the decision about the legal basis for the war was reached was “far from satisfactory”, but his report did not rule on the legality of the military action.

Blair himself defended the decision to oust Saddam and insisted that his efforts to form a close relationship with the US had persuaded President George Bush to pursue a second UN Security Council resolution, which ultimately was not obtained.

The money donated to the bereaved families’ campaign group is to provide “a comprehensive opinion approved by expert senior counsel”.

This will inform the relatives whether legal action against key actors would succeed or not.

Matthew Jury, managing partner at McCue and Partners, said: “Without the British public’s support, Sir John Chilcot’s report would be gathering dust already - but now, we will be able once and for all, to determine accountability and possible routes to justice.”

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