Respected Tory Calls for Blair to be Impeached

Tony BlairTony Blair should be impeached for misleading the Commons on the eve of the Iraq war, the most senior MP said today.

Sir Peter Tapsell, Father of the House, said backbenchers should use their ”ancient” powers to haul the former prime minister back to Parliament.

Sir Peter, who first entered the Commons in 1959, was one of a handful of Conservative MPs to vote against the Iraq war in 2003.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Peter challenged David Cameron to act

He said: ”Are you aware of the growing sentiment that, as the publication of the Chilcot Report is being so long delayed, the ancient, but still existing, power of backbenchers to commence the procedures of impeachment should now be activated to bring Mr Tony Blair to account for allegedly misleading the House on the necessity of the invasion of Iraq in 2003?”

Mr Cameron did not address directly the query on Mr Blair.

But he said: ”It is important we see the results of the Iraq inquiry. It has had access to all of the papers, all of the officials, all of the ministers, and, frankly, I would say that if the Iraq inquiry had started when this party and the Liberal Democrats suggested it, then actually we would have seen it published by now.

”But MPs opposite – including, incidentally, (Ed Miliband) – voted against starting the Iraq inquiry on no fewer than four occasions.”

A House of Commons Library note said the last impeachment took place in 1806 – but that the “procedure is considered obsolete”. It no longer exists in the standing orders of the Commons.

The goal was to ensure that when a “peer or commoner is accused of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours, beyond the reach of the law or which no other authority in the state will prosecute’ “, Parliament can offer a remedy.

The briefing note said historically, it had been “directed in particular against Ministers of the Crown”.

According to research from the library, on the last occasion it was used Lord Melville (Dundas) was charged by the Commons, but acquitted, of misappropriating official funds.

Before Melville, the last impeachment had been against Warren Hastings in 1787 in relation to his role in India, a trial which lasted seven years, ending in his acquittal.

The last case on purely political grounds was that against the Tory Ministers in 1713 for their part in the negotiating the Treaty of Utrecht. The Jacobite lords were impeached in 1716 and 1746 for rebellion.

 

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