Legal loophole likely to offer Tony Blair escape from any war crimes trial

© Andrew Winning
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair might never have to face trial after the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, because he likely committed a crime of aggression rather than a war crime, legal experts say.

Writing in the Guardian, human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC argued on Tuesday that despite “engaging” calls from both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish National Party MP Alex Salmond for Blair’s impeachment, the prospect is unlikely.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) warned on Sunday that while Tony Blair would not be prosecuted for war crimes, soldiers on the ground could be.

Now Robertson claims the former premier might have in fact committed a crime of aggression – “a crime against peace.”

Prosecution rules for crimes of aggression will only be finalized next year, and the ICC has no power to litigate against breaches in the UN charter that are not defined as war crimes.

Even once it does regulate on the matter, Blair would still not be brought to The Hague as law is not retroactive.

Some commentators, including Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne, have even suggested Blair knew from the start he would not be prosecuted for his decision to go to war in Iraq.

“International criminal law is still in its infancy, and to advance it the UK must ratify the amendment that will make the crime of aggression triable by the ICC,” said Robertson.