Sir John Chilcot, who is running the Iraq Inquiry, has recently announced that he will be ‘criticising’ a number of individuals for their part in going to war. That may sound a bit weak when we are talking about a war in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have died. But that’s as good as it’s going to get for an Inquiry which has no right to apportion blame or bring about legal charges.
It looks, quite rightly, as though Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell are in line for criticism. But so too is former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, who was responsible for the intelligence that led to claims that Iraq had the WMD capability to hit British bases. This was the information in the ‘dodgy dossier’ that was used to justify the attack on Iraq.
Sir Richard, however, is clearly tired of carrying the can for the war lies of Tony Blair and his accomplices. He is currently writing his own version of events in which it is thought he will make it clear that the intelligence provided was ‘sexed up’ for the dossier and misrepresented Iraq’s actual capabilities. Sir Richard had been planning to keep the memoirs secret until after his death but reports now suggest that he may publish sooner in order to clear his name.
Who can blame him? And in fact he would be doing us all a great service. The British people have the right to know how we were taken into that illegal war. We need to know the truth, no matter how long it takes. Tony Blair held public office and must be accountable to the British public. Individuals in high office cannot be exempt from justice – on the contrary we must expect the very highest standards from them. Indeed, Blair, Hoon and Straw should face charges both for waging a war of aggression against Iraq and for war crimes in Iraq during the war itself.
The statement we made at the opening of the Chilcot Inquiry remains our position today:
“At its conclusion the Inquiry must not merely state facts but must also apportion blame. The legal justification for war without a UN resolution has never looked weaker. Truthful answers from Blair, admitting that he committed Britain to war regardless of the UN process, would make it clear that he was prepared to wage a war of aggression – one of the highest crimes under international law. The Inquiry must be prepared to find against him on the overwhelming evidence presented by officials intimately involved in the process. Tony Blair took the country into an illegal war and should be held to account for his criminal decision.”