Tony Blair may face contempt charge in House of Commons over Iraq war


MPs could vote on whether Tony Blair is guilty of contempt in the House of Commons, following accusations he deceived MPs over the Iraq war.

David Davis, a Tory former cabinet minister when Britain invaded Iraq, said he will make a motion of contempt about Mr Blair in the Commons this week.

It comes after Lord Prescott, the deputy prime minister at the time of the 2003 invasion, claimed the Iraq War was illegal.

Davis said if his motion is accepted by Speaker John Bercow, it could be debated before Parliament breaks up for the summer.

David Davis.
David Davis (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The former shadow home secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "I'm going to put down a contempt motion, a motion which says that Tony Blair has held the House in contempt.

"It's a bit like contempt of court. Essentially by deceit."

Referring to the 2003 vote in invade Iraq, he added: "If you look just at the debate alone, on five different grounds the House was misled, three in terms of the weapons of mass destruction, one in terms of the UN votes were going, and one in terms of the threat, the risks.

"He might have done one of those accidentally, but five?"

Sir John Chilcot
Sir John Chilcot (Matt Dunham/PA)

He said if the House agreed Blair had held the House in contempt, MPs would have to persuade the authorities "to take the next step".

The long-awaited Chilcot report strongly criticised the way former prime minister Blair took the country to war in 2003 on the basis of "flawed" intelligence with inadequate preparation at a time when Saddam Hussein did not pose an "imminent threat".

Sir John Chilcot also said the way the decision about the legal basis for the war was reached was "far from satisfactory", but the report did not rule on the legality of the military action.

Labour heavyweight Lord Prescott used his strongest language yet to condemn Blair's decision to take part in the Iraq war, a decision he supported at the time.

John Prescott.
John Prescott (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Writing in The Sunday Mirror, the peer said: "I will live with the decision of going to war and its catastrophic consequences for the rest of my life.

"In 2004, the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said that as regime change was the prime aim of the Iraq war, it was illegal. With great sadness and anger, I now believe him to be right."

Lord Prescott said he had concerns about the way Blair ran his government, with Cabinet ministers given "too little paper documentation" to make decisions.

"As the deputy prime minister in that government I must express my fullest apology, especially to the families of the 179 men and women who gave their lives in the Iraq war."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a Momentum event at the School of Oriental and African Studies
Jeremy Corbyn(Rick Findler/PA)

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he "probably would" support a motion to hold Blair in contempt of Parliament.

Corbyn told the Andrew Marr Show: "I urge colleagues to read the Butler report and read the Chilcot report about the way in which Parliament was denied the information it should have had, the way in which there was lack of preparations for the post-invasion situation in Iraq and the way there were assertions of weapons of mass destruction.

"Parliament must hold to account, including Tony Blair, those who took us into this particular war."

Asked if he would back the motion, he said: "I haven't seen it yet, but I think I probably would."

Blair has defended the decision to oust Saddam and insisted that his efforts to form a close relationship with the US had persuaded Bush to pursue a second UN security council resolution, which ultimately was not obtained.