Final legal opinion on Chilcot report

Following the publication on 6 July 2016 of the much-awaited Chilcot Report on the role od the United Kingdom in the Iraq war, we publish an extract of the statement of 18 December 2017 by the Iraq War Families Campaign Group (IWFCG) outlining the reasons why no further legal action is possible in order to bring in court the British government officials responsible for military action of Iraq in March 2003. The legal team which researched into this matter concluded that it is down to Parliament, which is sovereign, to take any future initiatives. “Responsibility for what we believe is much need constitutional review and reform now lies with Parliament”, the spokespersons of the families conclude. And they ask: “Can the British people trust the very politicians responsible to police themselves?”


Statement by Roger Bacon and Reg Keys, on behalf of the Iraq War Families Campaign Group


– In reaching the decision to commit the UK to the invasion of Iraq, the Inquiry Report’s findings show that various state officials arguably breached Constitutional conventions.

– The Report contains sufficient evidence on which a court could find that Mr. Blair, and other state officials acted with reckless indifference to the legality of their actions. It would be legitimate to argue that they deliberately and consciously closed their minds to that risk.

– Nonetheless, recent significant judgments of the Higher Courts have closed off any possibility of making these arguments before the courts.

– Prior to R (Miller) v. Secretary of State for Exiting the EU [2017] it might have been arguable that breaches of Constitutional conventions could be the subject of court proceedings. However, in Miller, the Supreme Court settled the issue in holding that these are political not legal matters, over which Parliament, not the courts, have sanctioning power.

– In the same month as Miller, in Rahmatullah (No 2) v Ministry of Defence, the Supreme Court explicitly and definitively updated a line of previous authority which means that (in the absence of legislative authority to do so) the English courts will not pass judgment on the decision to go to war in Iraq.

– It was recently affirmed by the Administrative Court in R (Al Rabbat) v. Westminster Magistrate’s Court [2017] that the English courts may not adjudicate upon the use of prerogative powers concerning foreign policy and the deployment of military forces.

– As a result, the current state of English law is that, even if state officials knew they were acting in violation of their constitutional duties and were therefore reckless as to the damage that would cause and regardless of the level of damage ultimately inflicted, such breaches are not actionable in a court of law and can only be punished by Parliament.

– As regards the Inquiry’s conclusion that the legality of the war “can only be resolved by a properly constituted and internationally recognised Court”, the question of whether an English court could pass judgment was definitively settled by the Supreme Court in Rahmatullah (No.2), which held that the decision to invade Iraq could not be adjudicated on by the English courts. This is despite there now being both a significant body of evidence and eminent opinion that supports the conclusion that the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was unlawful.

Read the full statement 

Add Comment