by Larry Neild
LONDON, July 6 (Xinhua) -- A leading criminal law academic said Wednesday there was enough evidence for a war crime investigation against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the 2003 Iraq War.
Families of British soldiers killed in the war, which saw Britain join forces with the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein, also said Wednesday night they plan to consider legal action against Blair.
The long awaited Chilcot Report into the war ruled the invasion started before all peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. It said judgements made about Hussein having weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were presented with a certainty that was not justified, and the planning and preparations for post-war Iraq were wholly inadequate.
But Sir John Chilcot did not portion blame on any of the principle characters in the decision to go to war, instead constantly speaking of failures.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the Chilcot inquiry had "not expressed a view as to whether or not the UK's participation in the war was legal."
Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, issued an apology on behalf of his party and Blair also gave a response.
But the big question now is whether there will be any fallout from Chilcot's 13-volume, 2.6 million words report.
Demonstrators around Westminster called for Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes, while Sarah O'Connor, sister of one of the British soldiers killed in Iraq, branded Blair as "the world's worst terrorist."
Professor David Whyte, who has studied the Iraq War and its aftermath, told Xinhua: "There is enough evidence for an investigation against Blair and members of his cabinet, but whether that leads to any prosecutions is another matter.
"It would seem that the occupation of Iraq was illegal under the Geneva Convention. The International Criminal Court could look at the reconstruction and political changes as a consequence of the occupation under the Hague and Geneva conventions."
Whyte said Britain, as partners in the government of occupation, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), effectively ignored legal advice given by Britain's own Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith.
Whyte, professor of socio legal studies at the University of Liverpool, has made a detailed study of the Iraq War with London-based Greg Muttitt who works for an oil industry think tank.
Both men say oil resources played a part in the decision to invade.
Muttitt told Xinhua: "There is not a single mention of oil or energy recourses in Chilcot's summary, but a careful study of volume nine of his report gives clear evidence about the part oil played in this decision. A lot of people have always suspected this, but this section finally confirms it.
"In an Iraq Option Paper from the Cabinet Office, made public for the first time, it lists reasons for an invasion or a coup as, firstly, peace and security and secondly, British energy security, in other words oil."
The British lost 179 soldiers in the Iraq campaign between 2003 and 2009, but in the instability that followed the invasion an estimated 250,000 Iraqis died and a further million were displaced.
The decision by the Blair government to go to war was one of the most controversial by the British government in many decades, its impact continuing and likely to continue for some considerable time.
It was justified to parliament on the basis that Hussein had access to WMDs that posed a threat to Britain. After the invasion no such weapons were ever discovered.
In the Commons, Cameron told MPs: "Britain has and will continue to learn the lessons of this report. But as with our intervention against Daesh (IS) in Iraq and Syria today, Britain must not and will not shrink from its role on the world stage or fail to protect."
Corbyn said in the Commons that the Iraq War had been an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext. He added the weight of international opinion had long held it was an illegal war.
Later at a meeting with relatives of killed and injured soldiers Corbyn apologized on behalf of the Labour Party for what he said was a disastrous decision to go to war. Without naming any individuals, Corbyn said Britain should back moves to give the International Criminal Court the power to prosecute those responsible for a crime of military aggression.
Blair, giving his first public response to the Chilcot report said the decision to send troops to Iraq was the most agonizing and momentous he had made in his 10 years as prime minister. But he insisted there had been no lies to parliament and his cabinet had not been misled. The decision to invade Iraq, he insisted, was taken in good faith.
He said he felt deeply and sincerely in a way that no words can properly convey the grief and sorrow of those who lost loved ones
"The intelligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong, the aftermath turned out to be more hostile, protracted and bloody than ever we imagined," he said, adding the nation whose people "we wanted to set free from the evil of Saddam because instead victims of sectarian terrorism."
Looking emotional and drained, he gazed into the cameras as if to address the relatives of the dead and injured and said: "For all of this I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe." Enditem