Yesterday, The Iraq inquiry finally gave its report which is widely known as Chilcot Report. In this Report, the inquiry concluded:

  1. Saddam Regime did not pose a threat to British interests
  2. The evidence for presence of WMDs in Iraq was not credible/enough
  3. UK and US were already looking for excuses to start the war even before the peaceful options to resolve the conflict were exhausted.
  4. Legal authority for starting the war was far from satisfactory
  5. War was unnecessary
  6. Military action failed to achieve its goal and played a role in destabilisation of Iraq
  7. Invaders moved in without an adequate plan for rebuilding Iraq

Given all these findings, It could be said that British PM of the time, Tony Blair, was responsible for deaths of British soldiers and millions of Iraqis. He could also be said to be responsible for the destabilization which resulted in rise of ISIS and global terrorism.

Following charges could possibly be leveled against Mr. Blair apparently:

  1. Waging an unlawful war of aggression
  2. Endangering world peace
  3. War crimes committed by British Forces which could be tied to Mr. Blair due to responsibility of command.
  4. Causing Millions of deaths of Iraqi civilians
  5. Causing deaths of British servicemen and women
  6. Lying to Parliament, Cabinet and British Public
  7. Endangering British interests world wide and specifically in Middle East.
  8. Endangering British lives home and over-seas.
  9. Abuse of power and office

There is already a huge debate whether or not Tony Blair be taken to court now. Many people seem to be of the idea that this report has no legal basis and so Blair cannot be tried for any of these charges.

My Question is, Can he be prosecuted for the above mentioned charges by British or international bodies? If not for the above mentioned charges, Can he be prosecuted at all (And for what charges)?

EDIT: According to Lord Ken Macdonald, former director of Public Prosecutions:

Mr Blair’s behaviour could amount to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office. It “seemed very likely” Mr Blair had “roundly abused the trust placed in him by the public,”

  • Point 3 makes for a weak comparation. Hitler did issue orders to the German troops to commit war crimes (Comissar order, Commando order) and, additionally, many of the Whermatch (and others) war crimes were tolerated (when not organized) by the German top officers. Since most of the time (cough, cough The Troubles) the British Army does not not tolerate war crimes, the responsabilityof indivual acts would not escalate up the chain of command. Also, so far the estimates of casualties of the Iraq war (including the current conflict) are usually considerably less than a million.
    – SJuan76
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:32
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    I think answering this question will require quite a lot of knowledge of the UK criminal law and procedure. Therefore, I believe this question would get much better answers on law.stackexchange.com
    – Philipp
    Jul 7, 2016 at 17:54
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    @SJuan76 Also, Hitler was never tried for war crimes (he committed suicide before anyone had a chance to do so). A better analogue might be Hermann Göring who was sentenced to death for his involvement in the holocaust and world war two (he committed suicide before the sentence was executed, but that is irrelevant)
    – Philipp
    Jul 7, 2016 at 18:01
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    @SJuan76 Removed the hitler bit, So let's forget arguing fruitlessly about one trivial irrelevant bit and discuss the real question here. Can Tony Blair be prosecuted?
    – NSNoob
    Jul 7, 2016 at 22:24
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    Also While I do appreciate feedback, usually when I leave downvote, I tell the OP why did he deserve the downvote. I am curious about the close vote and the DV, the rationale behind. I do hope the people responsible leave a note so that I could improve the post
    – NSNoob
    Jul 7, 2016 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


Insert Standard IANAL Disclaimer here.

It would be highly unlikely that Tony Blair, George W (or even little Johnny Howard) could be trialed for War Crimes over Iraq. Especially George W as the US doesn't accept the War Crimes jurisdiction of the ICC.

Of the reports conclusions (as you've listed):

1.Saddam Regime did not pose a threat to British interests

This is an arguable point, but for determining anything, largely irrelevant, particularly as justification can be given under UK's position and responsibilities as part of the UNSC, and also as part of their alliance with the US.

2.The evidence for presence of WMDs in Iraq was not credible/enough

Again, arguable and irrelevant. Although turning out to be incorrect, the argument can (and already has) been made that they were acting on the best available intelligence at the time. The report you are referencing is written largely with the benefit of years of hindsight and with information that was not available prior to action in Iraq, and that is the kicker.

3.UK and US were already looking for excuses to start the war even before the peaceful options to resolve the conflict were exhausted.

This is nothing short of pure conjecture (however well supported, it is still largely opinion) and couldn't really stand up as its own argument.

4.Legal authority for starting the war was far from satisfactory

Far from satisfactory does not mean illegal. Immoral, yes, but no lacking in legal authority. Unsupported by the UNSC, but also technically enforcing the UNSC Resolutions.

5.War was unnecessary

Again, it's opinion, arguably correct but largely irrelevant. And also, again, written with the benefit of hindsight.

6.Military action failed to achieve its goal and played a role in destabilisation of Iraq

As with other findings in the report, this is based solely on hindsight and the events after the conflict ended. It has no bearing at all on the legalities of initiating the conflict.

7.Invaders moved in without an adequate plan for rebuilding Iraq

Again, has no bearing on the legalities of initiating the conflict and, as such, largely irrelevant.

Of course, all this will be used by people with a stick in their craw as justification for the vilification of government and certain people, but it doesn't, in itself, amount to being guilty of war crime or any offence more serious than a possible (however unlikely) charge of Misconduct in Public Office.

To date, there is only one official recorded incident of a War Crime under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 - one Donald Payne who was found guilty to a charge of Inhumane Treatment for the death of Baha Mousa

While the instigation of the Iraq War was questionable - especially with over a decade of hindsight - it hasn't been deemed illegal or found to contravene international law or UNSC resolutions. The legal justification for it revolves around Iraq failing to comply with previous UNSC Resolutions and it's something that most likely won't be resolved. But if it was as clearly illegal as some people claim then there would have been action taken against the aggressors.

  • The first sea lord of UK who was head of the intelligence for years says the intelligence was far from satisfactory. MI6 also said intelligence was not enough. Idk how does Blair's argument that he acted on best intelligence holds up against those witnesses.
    – NSNoob
    Jul 8, 2016 at 5:24
  • Also when it appears that Blair committed to Bush that he will be with bush, whatever. And they were looking for excuses even before unsc resolution. But +1 anyways. One thing missing is what about Lord MacDonald's opinion?
    – NSNoob
    Jul 8, 2016 at 5:33
  • Also, to be clear, your assertion would be that this report has no legal consequences for Blair whatsoever?
    – NSNoob
    Jul 8, 2016 at 6:02
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    @NSNoob the report has not legal consequences for anyone. Legal issues are decided by judges, by a proper legal process (with formal accusation, legal counsel, and over all of that the burden of proof). Blair can always said that, given the contradictory nature of the reports, he chose to invade as the most safe route even if there was no certainty about the threat. The only way to attack that would be producing witnesses or documents proving that Blair knew that the reports against Saddam were fabricated.
    – SJuan76
    Jul 8, 2016 at 11:35
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    You are arguing the validity of the results of the Chilcot Report. But regardless of whether or not your opinion is more correct than that of the experts which made that report, this is largely irrelevant. The question is can Blair be prosecuted. Not if such a prosecution would be successful.
    – Philipp
    Jul 8, 2016 at 12:10

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