Attorney General to 'go to court to demand Tony Blair is not prosecuted over Iraq war'

Telegraph Reporters
Jeremy Wright QC, the Government’s top law officer, is believed to have intervened in the attempted private prosecution of the former Prime Minister - 2017 © Elliott Franks

The Attorney General will go to court to demand that Tony Blair should not be prosecuted over the Iraq war, it has been reported.

Jeremy Wright QC, the Government’s top law officer, is believed to have intervened in the attempted private prosecution of the former Prime Minister, claiming that the case is “hopeless”.

It comes after a judge ruled in November last year that Mr Blair had “immunity” from criminal prosecution.  

He is seeking to intervene in this case because it raises issues about the scope of criminal law

Attorney General spokesman

A spokesman for the Attorney General would not be drawn on whether Mr Wright would oppose the attempted prosecution, but did say: "He is seeking to intervene in this case because it raises issues about the scope of criminal law."

The Guardian, which has seen legal documents on the reported intervention, said the planned move by the Attorney General follows a ruling that Mr Blair had immunity from the attempt to bring a criminal charge against him on the issue, and that pursuing a prosecution could "involve details being disclosed under the Official Secrets Act".

The private prosecution - brought forward by General Abdul-Wahid Shannan ar-Ribat, the former chief of staff of the Iraqi Army - is in relation to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and seeks the trial of Mr Blair, then foreign secretary Jack Straw, and the attorney general at the time, Lord Goldsmith. It reportedly seeks their conviction for the crime of "aggression" and is based on the findings of the Chilcot report into the war.

Key conclusions | The Iraq Inquiry

Mr Wright has formally asked to join future hearings and for the attempt to prosecute Blair and his top aides to be rejected, according to the paper.

The Attorney General allegedly claims the case is hopeless because the crime of aggression does not exist in English law, even though it does exist in international law.

Reserving the right to make other arguments, he added that he does not want courts to make criminal laws instead of parliaments or ministers.

Chilcot Inquiry IN NUMBERS

The Attorney General's spokesman added: "It is not unusual for the Attorney General to intervene in these sort of cases in order to represent the public interest."

Imran Khan, for Ribat, said his client was “baffled as to why it is that despite the Chilcot report making it very clear that the war was illegal, attempts are below made to prevent those responsible from entering a court, let alone being prosecuted for what they did”.

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