Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war incapable of deciding on legality – judges.

The Chilcot inquiry is due to begin in London later on today, however some senior legal figures are claiming that the inquiry lacks the authority to decide whether or not the invasion of Iraq was legal or illegal.

But one senior judge told the Guardian that analysing the war's legality was beyond the panel's competence.It does not include a single judge or lawyer.

"The truth of the matter is, if the inquiry was going to express a view with any kind of authority on the question of legality, it would need a legal member and quite a senior one," the judge said. "Looking at the membership … it seems to me that legality just wasn't going to be a question they would be asked to review."

Another senior legal figure said: "The panel clearly lacks the expertise to address the question of legality. The members are not experienced at cross-examination – it is simply not their skill set."

Of course, the fact that this inquiry has been set up by the very government which ordered the invasion of Iraq makes one suspect that the question of the wars legality is one which they would prefer the inquiry didn't go into.

Tony Blair is going to take the stand and anyone who has watched Blair wriggle around the subject when facing parliament over the years would know that it will take a very experienced cross examiner to have any chance of getting anywhere with someone of Blair's pedigree. Blair's been delivering his version of the truth on this subject for years and has almost come to believe it himself.

"Some of the debates around the legality of the war are quite sophisticated – it is not all clear-cut," the senior legal figure said. "It's going to be very difficult to deal with someone like Blair without a panel experienced in cross-examination.".

"Looking into the legality of the war is the last thing the government wants," said the judge. "And actually, it's the last thing the opposition wants either because they voted for the war. There simply is not the political pressure to explore the question of legality – they have not asked because they don't want the answer."

"Lawyers are trained to weigh up evidence and will know and say when they see a decision-making process that appears to be out of the ordinary," said the British international law expert Professor Philippe Sands QC. "The fact that the members of the inquiry do not include a lawyer is very, very telling".
So, at long, long last an inquiry has eventually begun. But it already looks as if it has been tilted heavily in favour of the government.

Click here for full article.

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