UK: As Blair continues to rake in obscene mega-bucks, a bounty on his head for war crimes Print E-mail
 London ~ Tuesday 26 January 2010, page 27

Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward

Chilcot and the courts won't do it, so it is up to us to show that we won't let an illegal act of mass murder go unpunished

By   George Monbiot

Scroll down to read of movement offering a bounty for attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest of the ousted British PM Tony Blair, and the latest announcement of BLiar's obscene earnings from his "More Tory than the Tories money-hungry Gospel"

The only question that counts is the one that the Chilcot inquiry won't address: was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg tribunal called "the supreme international crime": the crime of aggression.

But there's a problem with official inquiries in the United Kingdom: the government appoints their members and sets their terms of reference. It's the equivalent of a criminal suspect being allowed to choose what the charges should be, who should judge his case and who should sit on the jury. As a senior judge told the Guardian in November: "Looking into the legality of the war is the last thing the government wants. 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."

Others have explored it, however. Two weeks ago a Dutch inquiry, led by a former supreme court judge, found that the invasion had "no sound mandate in international law". Last month Lord Steyn, a former law lord, said that " in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal". In November Lord Bingham, the former lord chief justice, stated that, without the blessing of the UN, the Iraq war was " a serious violation of international law and the rule of law".

Under the United Nations charter, two conditions must be met before a war can legally be waged. The parties to a dispute must first "seek a solution by negotiation" (article 33). They can take up arms without an explicit mandate from the UN security council only "if an armed attack occurs against [them]" (article 51). Neither of these conditions applied. The US and UK governments rejected Iraq's attempts to negotiate. At one point the US state department even announced that it would "go into thwart mode" to prevent the Iraqis from resuming talks on weapons inspection (all references are on my website). Iraq had launched no armed attack against either nation.

We also know that the UK government was aware that the war it intended to launch was illegal. In March 2002, the Cabinet Office explained that "a legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to law officers' advice, none currently exists." In July 2002, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, told the prime minister that there were only "three possible legal bases" for launching a war  "self-defence, ­humanitarian intervention, or UNSC [security council] authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case." Bush and Blair later failed to obtain security council authorisation.

As the resignation letter on the eve of the war from Elizabeth Wilmshurst, then deputy legal adviser to the ­Foreign Office, revealed, her office had ­"consistently" advised that an ­invasion would be unlawful without a new UN resolution. She explained that "an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression". Both Wilmshurst and her former boss, Sir Michael Wood, will testify before the Chilcot inquiry tomorrow. Expect fireworks.

Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder: those who died were unlawfully killed by the people who commissioned it. Crimes of aggression (also known as crimes against peace) are defined by the Nuremberg principles as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties". They have been recognised in international law since 1945. The Rome statute, which established the international criminal court (ICC) and which was ratified by Blair's government in 2001, provides for the court to "exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression", once it has decided how the crime should be defined and prosecuted.

There are two problems. The first is that neither the government nor the opposition has any interest in pursuing these crimes, for the obvious reason that in doing so they would expose themselves to prosecution. The second is that the required legal mechanisms don't yet exist. The governments that ratified the Rome statute have been filibustering furiously to delay the point at which the crime can be prosecuted by the ICC: after eight years of discussions, the necessary provision still has not been adopted.

Some countries, mostly in eastern Europe and central Asia, have incorporated the crime of aggression into their own laws, though it is not yet clear which of them would be willing to try a foreign national for acts committed abroad. In the UK, where it remains ­illegal to wear an offensive T-shirt, you cannot yet be prosecuted for mass ­murder commissioned overseas.

All those who believe in justice should campaign for their governments to stop messing about and allow the international criminal court to start prosecuting the crime of aggression. We should also press for its adoption into national law. But I believe that the people of this nation, who re-elected a government that had launched an illegal war, have a duty to do more than that. We must show that we have not, as Blair requested, "moved on" from Iraq, that we are not prepared to allow his crime to remain unpunished, or to allow future leaders to believe that they can safely repeat it.

But how? As I found when I tried to apprehend John Bolton, one of the architects of the war in George Bush's government, at the Hay festival in 2008, and as Peter Tatchell found when he tried to detain Robert Mugabe, nothing focuses attention on these issues more than an attempted citizen's arrest. In October I mooted the idea of a bounty to which the public could contribute, ­payable to anyone who tried to arrest Tony Blair if he became president of the European Union. He didn't of course, but I asked those who had pledged money whether we should go ahead anyway. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

So today I am launching a website  whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest of the former prime minister. I have put up the first £100, and I encourage you to match it. Anyone meeting the rules I've laid down will be entitled to one quarter of the total pot: the bounties will remain available until Blair faces a court of law. The higher the ­reward, the greater the number of ­people who are likely to try.

At this stage the arrests will be largely symbolic, though they are likely to have great political resonance. But I hope that as pressure builds up and the crime of aggression is adopted by the courts, these attempts will help to press ­governments to prosecute. There must be no hiding place for those who have committed crimes against peace. No ­civilised country can allow mass ­murderers to move on.

Blair must face justice

This site offers a reward to people attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, for crimes against peace. Anyone attempting an arrest which meets the rules laid down here will be entitled to one quarter of the money collected at the time of his or her application.

Money donated to this site will be used for no other purpose than to pay bounties for attempts to arrest Tony Blair. All administration and other costs, apart from any charges added to your donations by Paypal, will be paid by the site’s founder.

The intention is to encourage repeated attempts to arrest the former prime minister. We have four purposes:

  • - To remind people that justice has not yet been done.
  • - To show Mr Blair that, despite his requests for people to “move on” from Iraq, the mass murder he committed will not be forgotten.
  • - To put pressure on the authorities of the United Kingdom and the countries he travels through to prosecute him for a crime against peace, or to deliver him for prosecution to the International Criminal Court.
  • - To discourage other people from repeating his crime.

We have no interest in people’s motivation, as long as they follow the rules laid down by this site. If they try to arrest Mr Blair because they care about the people he has killed, so much the better. But if they do it only for the money, that is fine too, and we will have encouraged an attempt which would not otherwise have taken place.

The higher the bounty, the more people are likely to try to arrest Mr Blair. Please remember that the account will remain open, regardless of how many have already claimed a reward, so new donations will continue to encourage have-a-go heroes.

If, beyond 31st December 2010, a bounty is claimed when the total fund has fallen below £500, the successful claimant will take the whole pot, which we will then seek to replenish. The fund will remain open for as long as Mr Blair lives, or until he is officially prosecuted. If it still contains money after his death or prosecution, the remainder will be donated to one or more organisations campaigning for international justice, or used to pursue other people responsible for the Iraq war. You will be welcome to nominate recipients.

© 2010 Arrest Blair
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 London ~ Tuesday 26 January 2010, page 6

Tony Blair to boost earnings as paid speaker for Mayfair hedge fund

  • • Possible £2,000-a-minute fees to talk to financiers
  • • Firm is managed by significant Tory donor
By Elena Moya

The former PM has secured a lucrative new speaker deal with hedge fund Lansdowne Partners. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

Tony Blair will add to the riches he has made since leaving office after agreeing to become a paid speaker for Lansdowne Partners, a London-based hedge fund managed by a major Tory party donor.

Blair will give some private speeches to staff of the Mayfair-based fund this year, potentially earning him hundreds of thousands of pounds, it has emerged.

The former prime minister's spokesman declined to comment on his fees, although he is reported to earn as much as £180,000 for 90 minutes for his thoughts on geopolitical matters in countries from Spain to the Philippines. That works out at about £2,000 a minute.

"He [Blair] remains one of the most popular speakers around the world," the spokesman said.

Blair, 56, has made more than £10m since leaving office from deals including books, advisory roles and event appearances. He is reported to have received £4.6m for his memoirs, to be published by Random House after the general election. Blair also receives about £2m for an advisory and representative role with US investment bank JP Morgan, and another half a million from Zurich Financial Services. He has a £63,000 annual pension, funded by UK taxpayers.

However, he spends most of his time as the UN envoy in the Middle East, a job that is unpaid, the spokesman said. Blair spends between one week and 10 days a month in the region, away from his £4m Connaught Square home in central London.

But talking to a hedge fund is likely to spark anger in the Labour party as it tries to toughen regulation and impose heavier taxes on the financial sector.

Lansdowne became known for making money by betting on the fall of Barclays and Northern Rock shares at the peak of the credit crunch. The fund made an estimated £100m from the demise of the now nationalised Northern Rock.

The move is also controversial because one of the firm's founders, the former Goldman Sachs banker Paul Ruddock, has donated about £260,000 to the Conservative party. The sum is enough to secure him membership of the Tory leader's 100-strong elite donors' club without denting his estimated £350m personal fortune. After his firm sold a 20% stake to Morgan Stanley, Ruddock now carries out some philanthropic jobs, including being the chairman of the board of trustees of the Victoria & Albert museum.

Blair follows the steps of two former Conservative leaders into the lucrative hedge fund sector. The London-based Centaurus fund used to employ Kenneth Clarke, the shadow business secretary, and the former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar until they were removed from the board after losses by the fund linked to the credit crunch.

Hedge funds often employ former politicians to gain better knowledge of the political and investment climate in certain countries or sectors. Their knowledge of how governments work and their network of contacts help financiers gain information before deciding on an investment.

In this case, Blair will not talk to Lansdowne clients but only to some of the firm's 100 global staff. Blair, who still defends his decision to invade Iraq in his speeches, arranges his talks and appearances through the Washington Speakers Bureau, an agency for public figures such as Sarah Palin and George Bush.