UK appeals court allows bid for inquiry into Iraq war to proceed

[JURIST] The UK Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that Military Families Against the War (MFAW) [advocacy website], a group of families with members who have died in Iraq, is entitled to apply for judicial review of the government's decision not to hold an independent inquiry into why the UK went to war. Reversing a High Court decision [JURIST report] in the case, Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke wrote [judgment text] that

In the light of all the information at present available it seems to us that, if it is otherwise appropriate to hold an inquiry, it is at least arguable that the question whether the invasion was lawful (or reasonably thought to have been lawful) as a matter of international law is worthy of investigation.
The plaintiffs petitioned the High Court [JURIST report; MFAW backgrounder] last November for an independent inquiry under an article of the UK Human Rights Act [text] that requires a proper, adequate investigation after lives are lost in combat. The plaintiffs are particularly interested in discovering why the Attorney General's Office rewrote an "equivocal" 13-page opinion [PDF text] on the legality of the war into an "unequivocal" one-page opinion [text] that stressed the legality of the war. The Court of Appeal decided to schedule a hearing on the petition for Nov. 6, instead of remanding the petition to the High Court, which denied the petition last December.

The group first called for an inquiry [JURIST report] in May and subsequently sued UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes [JURIST report] in the International Criminal Court. BBC News has more. From London, the Times has additional coverage.


 

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