The Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted that Tony Blair may be tried for war crimes in a Scottish court, following the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.
Speaking ahead of the long-anticipated Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War this coming Wednesday, Mr Salmond, Scottish National Party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said that he and many others believed that the evidence was there for “action to be taken” against the former Labour Prime Minister.
The “most obvious crime” for which Mr Blair might be tried would be that of organising a “war of aggression,” Mr Salmond said, although he conceded that this would be difficult as the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over that, Herald Scotland has reported.
“The domestic courts, at least in England have chosen not to pursue crimes which were international,” Mr Salmond explained. But he then noted: “Incidentally, that has not been tested in Scotland.”
Mr Salmond, who in 2004 unsuccessfully tried to impeach Mr Blair over the Iraq War, has allies in his bid to see Mr Blair face criminal proceedings.
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has refused to rule out the possibility of Mr Blair being charged with war crimes, and did not dispute the suggestion, made over the weekend, that he and the current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would seek to “crucify” Mr Blair as a “war criminal” when Chilcot is released.
Asked whether Mr Blair might have to face the international court, Mr McDonnell replied: “Nobody can comment on this until we see the report itself and I’m hoping that it will be thorough and for me the importance is not Tony Blair or any individuals, it’s about the processes, so we never ever get into this tragic, tragic mess again with such loss of life.”
Mr Salmond was more forthright, insisting: “One way or another, there are many MPs across the political parties, who are absolutely determined, that account has to be held to.”
Some have suggested that Mr Blair be stripped of his role as Privy Councillor, losing the title of “right honourable” which accompanies it.
But Mr Salmond declared: “You cannot have a situation where this country blunders into an illegal war with the appalling consequences and at the end of the day there isn’t a reckoning. There has to be a judicial or political reckoning for it.”
And he said the reason why Mr Corbyn and others regarded Mr Blair as a war criminal was clear: “179 British war dead, 150,000 immediate dead from the Iraq conflict, a Middle East in flames, the world faced with an existential crisis on terrorism.”
Professor Robert Black QC, one of Scotland’s foremost advocates and one of the architects of the Lockerbie trial agreed that the Scottish courts would have jurisdiction to try Mr Blair, but questioned what charges would or could be brought
“Since Tony Blair’s actions over Iraq were taken while he was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, it is certainly the case that, if he committed any criminal offences, Scottish courts just as much as English courts would have jurisdiction to try him.
“But I have to say, I’m having difficulty trying to figure out what the charges under Scots or English law would be.”
But the families of those who died in Iraq have said they would like to see Mr Blair in court.
Rose Gentle from Glasgow, whose 19-year-old son Gordon, a Royal Highland Fusilier, died on patrol in Basra in 2004 in a roadside bomb attack, said: “Whatever comes out in the inquiry, if he [Tony Blair] has lied and is held responsible for it, then he should be taken to court.
“I don’t see why it should just be England; Scottish families have lost someone as well. If anything does come out, then it should be taken further and if it’s got to be done in the Scottish courts, then it should be done because there are Scottish families affected.”
Other families who lost loved ones in Iraq have already indicated that they will consider using the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry to sue those responsible for the war, including generals, ex-ministers and Mr Blair, for failing in their duties to the public.