After Chilcot: Tony Blair edges towards day in ‘court’

Nathanael Williams

After the publication of the Chilcot Report, MPs close in on proposal to ‘prosecute’ Tony Blair 

FORMER prime minister Tony Blair faces being found in 'contempt of parliament' after a cross-party group of MPs announced a plan to hold him to account over the 2003 Iraq war.

The news comes in the light of the Iraq inquiry by Sir John Chilcot which found the former prime minister’s government had relied on “flawed intelligence” and “far from satisfactory legal advice”.

Tory MP David Davis said he will put forward a motion that says “Tony Blair held the House in contempt” over the conflict by lying to MPs during a key parliamentary debate on the eve of war in March 2003.

If you need to remember the main points of the Chilcot Report click here for our eight point summary.

If successful, this would strip him of the privilege common to current and former prime ministers of sitting on the Privy Council. The Privy Council is the historic body that traditionally advises the monarch on a regular basis. 

Davis has received support from 20 MPs including the SNP former First Minister Alex Salmond. 

He further said: “Blair says that Chilcot doesn’t say he is a liar, but Chilcot wasn’t asked to rule on that. He (Sir John Chilcot) was asked to rule on the causes of the war and the consequences of the war, not whether Tony Blair lied or not.”

The MPs looking to push forward the motion state that the censure vote would debate five key areas that the former prime minster “deceived the house” on.

 “If you look just at the debate alone, on five different grounds the House was misled.” David Davis

Any debate on a ‘censure vote’ would fall on the three counts of deception relating to the former prime minister’s claims over weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq, including that judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's WMDs were “presented with a certainty that was not justified”, and intelligence had “not established beyond doubt” that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons.

Moreover, The Joint Intelligence Committee said Iraq has “continued to produce chemical and biological agents” but this was not substantiated by consistent evidence or UK and US forces after the invasion.

“It’s about Parliament not standing for being misled.” Alex Salmond

An additional count will be on the way MPs were misled over how the UN security council votes were going. 

The UK's actions undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council: The UN's Charter puts responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the Security Council. 

Tony Blair and former US President George W Bush claimed to act on behalf of the international community “to uphold the authority of the Security Council”. 

But they knew they did not have a majority supporting their actions.

Finally there will be focus on Tony Blair’s claim of a specific threat to the UK from Iraq.

Mr Davis also told the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “I'm going to put down a contempt motion, a censure motion which says that Tony Blair has held the House in contempt. It's a bit like contempt of court. Essentially by deceit.”

He added: “If you look just at the debate alone, on five different grounds the House was misled, three in terms of the weapons of mass destruction, one in terms of the UN votes were going, and one in terms of the threat, the risks.

“He might have done one of those accidentally, but five?”

Meanwhile, SNP MP Alex Salmond told the Sunday Herald: “It’s about Parliament not standing for being misled.

“Particularly when the evidence is overwhelming of being told one story in public while the then prime minister was pursuing a totally different strategy in private with the American president.”

Apart from Alex Salmond, Conservative David Davis is the only MP who has explicitly asked whether the House was misled over the case for war.

Picture courtsey of Centre For American Progress

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.