Insufficient evidence to probe Tony Blair over Iraq war, UK lawmakers say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 6:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 6:11pm

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair won’t face an investigation into whether he misled Parliament before the 2003 Iraq invasion unless new evidence emerges, a committee of lawmakers said on Thursday.

A seven-year official inquiry into the war cleared Blair of allegations that he had made a “personal and demonstrable decision to deceive Parliament or the public”, Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said.

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The committee said that several probes into the divisive war don’t “provide a sufficient basis” for a parliamentary investigation.

The decision to enter the US-led war was the most contentious act of Blair’s decade as prime minister between 1997 and 2007. By the time British combat forces left Iraq in 2009, the conflict had killed 179 UK troops, almost 4,500 US personnel and more than 100,000 Iraqis.

The Iraq War Inquiry led by retired civil servant John Chilcot concluded last year that Blair led Britain into the war through a mix of flawed intelligence, inadequate planning and poor judgment. But it refrained from saying whether the invasion was legal and didn’t accuse Blair of deliberately misleading the public or Parliament.

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The parliamentary committee said that there still aren’t strong measures to prevent a prime minister from sidelining senior Cabinet colleagues when deciding to go to war.

Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin said that before the Iraq invasion, “there was a lack of collective Cabinet decision-making, at a time when clear thinking and a culture of challenge was most needed”.

“The failure to engage Cabinet on such decisions cannot be allowed to happen again, but there is no mechanism to ensure that,” he said.