Tony Blair awaits decision on bid to charge him over Iraq war

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Jul 06, 2017
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Tony Blair was ruled by magistrates to have immunity from legal action

Jonathan Brady/PA

High Court judges have reserved judgment on whether a former chief-of-staff of the Iraqi army can continue his attempt to prosecute Tony Blair over the Iraq war.

General Abdul Wahed Shannan al-Rabbat alleges that the former prime minister committed “the crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003. The general wants to bring a private prosecution against Blair and two other key ministers at the time – Jack Straw, who was the foreign secretary, and Lord Goldsmith, who was attorney-general.

Westminster magistrates’ court refused to issue summonses in November last year on the grounds that the former ministers had immunity from legal action, and in any event the current attorney-general, Jeremy Wright, QC, would have to give consent.

The general applied to the High Court in London for permission to seek a judicial review of the magistrates’ decision. After a half-day hearing, two judges – including the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, reserved judgment and said they would give their decision at a later date.

The general lives in Muscat, the capital of Oman. He does not possess a passport and could not be at yesterday’s hearing.

The attorney-general intervened in the case and his legal team urged Lord Thomas, who was sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley, to deny the general his judicial review on the grounds that it was “hopeless” and unarguable because the crime of aggression is not recognised in English law.

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