Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is reportedly preparing to call for an investigation into former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes in the wake of a long-awaited Chilcot inquiry into the country’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will publish a 2.6 million-word report on July 6, following seven years of analyzing evidence about how the British government acted before the invasion of Iraq and during the war.
According to a Labour spokesperson, Corbyn will stand by comments he made during the party’s leadership contest last year that the Iraq war was illegal and all those who committed a crime should be put on trial.
“If [Tony Blair has] committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who's committed a war crime should be [charged],” Corbyn said.
“I think it was an illegal war, I'm confident about that, indeed Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore he has to explain to that,” he added.
The Labour spokesperson said “we look forward to the release of the Chilcot [inquiry] report into the Iraq war and reading the evidence he has uncovered.”
Corbyn was against the Iraq war and had voted and campaigned against it despite the party’s endorsement of the move under Blair.
Blair told British MPs before invading Iraq that intelligence showed former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “active”, “growing” and “up and running” nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were the basis of launching the war.
In 2004, however, a US report said that Saddam Hussein had destroyed his last WMD over a decade ago and had no capacity to build new ones.
Blair, Straw, Dearlove to get brutal verdict
Meanwhile, a former government minister, who asked for anonymity, told the Sunday Times that the Chilcot inquiry report will deliver an “absolutely brutal” verdict on Blair, his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove.
“It will be absolutely brutal for Straw. The build-up to war is very crucial,” the source who had the knowledge of the inquiry said.
"It will damage the reputations of a number of people, Richard Dearlove as well as Tony Blair and others,” the source added.
The former minister further noted that the report also has a second part that depicts how “we really did make a mess of the aftermath.”
The report’s section about the UK’s withdrawal from the Iraqi city of Basra in 2007 was “embarrassing”, the source also said, adding the report would conclude that the Blair government did not have “the full picture” before invading the Arab country because of Blair’s informal “sofa-style” approach.
Last week, the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond reportedly began rallying support for the impeachment of Blair. Salmond said any prosecution of Blair should be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the inquiry reveals that the Labour prime minister made a secret commitment to former US President George W. Bush to support the war.
The Chilcot inquiry was launched in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown into the Iraq invasion by the United States and the UK and its aftermath that saw British forces remained in the Arab country for six years.