Wales politics

Tony Blair should still be impeached over Iraq says Plaid's Adam Price

Tony Blair in June 2016 Image copyright PA

Tony Blair should still be impeached by Parliament over the Iraq war, Plaid Cymru AM and ex-MP Adam Price has said.

His comments come in reaction to an official report which said the UK went to war in Iraq before all peaceful options for disarming Saddam Hussein were exhausted.

But Labour MP for Cynon Valley Ann Clwyd said many Iraqis were grateful for the action taken at the time.

In the wake of the report Mr Blair said the decision to invade was "right".

The findings of Sir John Chilcot's report include:

  • The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.
  • Military action might have been necessary later, but in March 2003 there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein; the strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time and the majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring.
  • Judgements about the severity of threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - known as WMD - were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
Image caption Adam Price was an MP for nine years before quitting the Commons in 2010

Mr Price, a former Plaid MP and now AM who had campaigned to impeach the former Labour prime minister over the Iraq War, has again called on Parliament to do so.

He said: "Impeachment is alive. It is a tool that exists.

"It may be the only means available for us to hold Tony Blair to account because as we've heard the International Criminal Court does not allow cases to be brought on the crime of aggression, in terms of individuals

"It's the only opportunity that we have. It's only parliament, which is the highest court in the land, that can do it. They need to do it. They must do it because actually they were guilty in terms of the original decision - they have to move now to rebuild faith in democracy itself."

According to the Parliament website impeachment is when a peer or commoner is accused of "high crimes and misdemeanours, beyond the reach of the law or which no other authority in the state will prosecute".

The procedure is considered obsolete, the website says.

Image caption Hywel Williams: Mr Blair's "undermined the UN security council's authority"

Plaid's MP for Arfon and parliamentary leader Hywel Williams said: "The Chilcot Report confirms what Plaid Cymru MPs have said from the beginning."

He said it showed the dossier prepared to make the case for war "did not reflect the evidence given to Mr Blair by the security services".

"It confirms that Mr Blair undermined the UN security council's authority and that war was not a last resort," he said.

"It is clear that when Blair failed to get the second UN resolution, he handed over UK foreign policy to George Bush.

"His legacy is a million dead, a failed state and the Middle East in flames.

"The region as a whole in crisis, with innocent families fleeing their own governments and terrorist organisations, and desperately seeking refuge in Europe.

"We cannot have an illegal war with such devastating consequences without a judicial or political reckoning.

"Mr Blair must be held to account."

Paul Flynn, Newport West MP and Labour's Shadow Welsh Secretary, said: "Chilcot confirms this is a wholly unjust war in which Parliament was deceived."

Mr Flynn, who voted against the war before the invasion, said: "179 of our brave soldiers were killed, 3,500 were injured and at least 150,000 Iraqis died. The war created chaos and instability that continues until now."

Defending the war Ann Clwyd, MP for Cynon Valley, who voted for the war and was special envoy on human rights in Iraq from 2003 until 2010, said that Saddam Hussein slaughtered his own people and was in breach of a string of UN resolutions.

Ms Clwyd, who spoke during a debate on the report in the House of Commons, said: "Saddam Hussein in 1988 already had killed a half a million of his own people. He went on to kill more and more - the Shia in the south, the Kurds in the north, the Marsh Arabs in the south.

"And if you stood by the mass graves where 10,000 Iraqi bodies lie, still many of them undiscovered - those of us who had campaigned for human rights over many years in Iraq, and I over 30 years, were very well aware of the torture and the horrors happening in that country.

"And I wish people would ask Iraqis what they think of the invasion, because many Iraqis are grateful that we took the action we did that time."

"The horrors of Saddam Hussein and what he did to his own people...were clearly documented and I think we were right to take part in that invasion."

'Good faith'

Mr Blair said, in response to the report: "I do not believe the removal of Saddam Hussein is the cause of terrorism we see today in the Middle East or elsewhere."

He also said that his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein was taken "in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country".

He later added at a press conference: "I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe."

But he added: "I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer."

Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "There are many lessons to be learnt from the report and it is important that politicians take note of its findings."

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