Archive for June, 2015

Chilcot Inquiry delayed again: don’t hold your breath

Chilcot Inquiry
Before this Inquiry started its hearings, Public Interest Lawyers commented that the key issues should include the following:
• Examination of the role of legal advice on the legality of the invasion and the UK’s international human rights obligations.
• The misleading of the public over prior commitment to regime change.
• The use of indiscriminate weaponry and tactics, including the targeting of infrastructure, the use of cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives and depleted uranium shells.
• War crimes.
• At least 650,000 deaths, four million refugees and the devastation of Iraq.
• A victim-centred approach must be fundamental.
The Inquiry hearings have been held without taking evidence under oath and have expressly excluded legal consequences. Its function was not to apportion blame.
Matters emerging during the Chilcot Inquiry hearings have included the following:

On November 29, 2009 the Mail on Sunday reported that in July 2002 the Attorney-General wrote to Blair stating that to depose Saddam Hussein would be a blatant breach of international law.
In March 2003 he gave legal backing to the War. The newspaper report suggested duress.
The letter of July 2002 is reported to have contained the following points:
• The War could not be justified purely on the grounds of regime change
• It was not self-defence: there was no threat from Iraq
• Humanitarian intervention was not relevant
• It was very hard to rely on earlier UN Resolutions.
Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office, told the Inquiry that it was the unanimous view of Foreign Office lawyers that the Iraq War was illegal. She resigned in protest against the invasion. Wilmshurst stated that the invasion was illegal. The rules of international law on the use of force by states are at the heart of international law. Collective security, as opposed to unilateral military action, is a central purpose of the UN Charter. The advice of the Foreign Office lawyers was ignored by Ministers.

FIFA Corruption Scandal

In an episode which could be taken straight from a Hollywood blockbuster, FIFA, the governing body of football worldwide has been shaken with accusations of endemic corruption. While not everyone cares about ‘the beautiful game’, the fact that such a large institution could be guilty of widespread bribery, money laundering and fraud is an issue concerning for all.

The news first broke last week, following dawn raids coordinated by the USA which led to fourteen senior officials being arrested. FIFA were quick to rebut claims and continued with the presidential election between Sepp Blatter, current president and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein two days later. Prince Ali then withdrew after the first round of voting, which saw Blatter just short of the two thirds majority needed to win. The unquestionable faith in their leader, even noble, transpired to be misplaced. Only a few days later after his re-election, Blatter stood down as FIFA president. Hours later it emerged that the FBI were investigating him as part of their corruption inquiry. Today, 4th June 2015, Chuck Blazer, a former FIFA executive, admitted that he and other members were bribed in return for voting for South Africa in the 2010 World Cup, and facilitating bribery payments for the 1998 World Cup in France. Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president and one of the original arrested, was documented as the recipient of that bribe, in relation to Morocco’s failed bid. Hours later Warner made a television appearance stating “I have kept quiet. I will do so no more”. He alleges that the corruption goes far wider than just within football, stating he had evidence to link important FIFA officials to the 2010 Trinidad and Tobago elections.
The FBI and Swiss Authorities are now investigating the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Both the United Kingdom and Australia have stated that they are ready to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively if the tournaments are stripped from the current hosts.

This sorry sage will undoubtedly continue to unfold through the coming days, weeks and months. The level of arrogance shown by the most powerful men in football will undoubtedly be used to hoist them by their own petard. Back-biting and counter-accusations as they attempt to save their own skin will surely follow. However, while it is one of the largest scandals to hit in recent times, there is hope for justice that even the most powerful will tumble eventually.