The refusal to prosecute Tony Blair over the Iraq War is “not justice” and grants British leaders “complete immunity”, the lawyer representing his accuser has said.
The High Court dismissed a private prosecution by Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat, a former chief of staff in the Iraqi Army, who sought to bring Blair, then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and then-Attorney General Lord Goldsmith before the courts to face charges of the “crime of aggression” for their part in the invasion in 2003.
The attempt to prosecute came after the Chilcot Inquiry said that the decision to invade “was not a last resort”.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court held that there could be no prosecution as there no such crime under English law.
Rabbat appealed but on Monday the High Court threw the case out, saying it had “no prospect” of succeeding.
Imran Khan, who represented Rabbat, told HuffPost UK his client was “extremely disappointed” and said of the judgment: “This is not justice.”
He added: “The invasion and subsequent occupation resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals, as well as the displacement of over four million others including General Al Rabbat, who has had to seek sanctuary and refuge in another country.
“Iraq has been left decimated and in a state of chronic instability. Despite all of this, and the clear findings of the Chilcot Inquiry which laid bare the conduct of those that should be held to account, the High Court has confirmed that there is to be no accountability.
“Those responsible are to remain unpunished.”
Khan added that the judgment gave the Government “de facto domestic immunity”.
“Any leader can act as he/she chooses knowing that whatever action they take, it can be taken with complete impunity,” he continued.
“Many countries including Germany, Kosovo, and Serbia have enacted domestic legislation, while the British Government has manifestly failed to ensure that those guilty of bringing devastation to nations through aggressive war can be brought to trial.
“On the national and international stage the failure of the British Government to give tangible commitment to the prosecution of the crime of aggression undermines the rule of law.
“It sets a dangerous precedent in times of global insecurity and sets an example to the rest of the world of how to commit the most serious of crimes, and get away with it.”
Khan called on the Government to legislate to introduce the crime of aggression.
“Our elected representatives owe this much at least to those that perished in an unnecessary and illegal war,” he added.
The UK was part of a coalition, led by the US, that invaded Iraq after US president George W Bush and Blair accused Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having links to terrorists.
Barrister Michael Mansfield argued at an earlier High Court hearing that the “crime of aggression” had been assimilated into English law from international law.
Mansfield said Chilcot’s main findings were in a paragraph early in his 12-volume, 2.6 million-word report.
The lawyer said the paragaph showed the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction had been presented with “unwarranted certainty”.
Mansfield told the court: “Nothing could be more emphatic than this evidence.”
But the High Court judges said “a new criminal offence could only be created by Act of Parliament; no new offence could be created by the common law...
“A decision on the charge would involve a decision in the courts on the culpability in going to war”.
A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office said: “This case raised important issues about the scope of the criminal law.
“It should be for Parliament, and not the Courts, to create new criminal offences.
“This principle was upheld when the House of Lords ruled in 2006 that the ‘crime of aggression’ does not exist in English law. In this legal challenge, we argued that this remains the case today and the Courts agreed.”