Blair’s impeachment bid accuses him of misconduct

A draft of a parliamentary motion to impeach British Prime Minister Tony Blair accuses him of "gross misconduct" over the war in Iraq, a newspaper reported.

The Plaid Cymru party has now finalized the text of the motion which will be put before the House of Commons.

The Independent said on Sunday that it had obtained the draft of the motion from a cross-party group of MPs. It also said that the text will be presented for debate soon after the new parliamentary session starts later this month.

The motion calls for a selected panel to probe into the "conduct of the PM in relation to the war in Iraq," the daily said.

The committee would set up the "articles of impeachment" and a panel of law lords would judge whether Blair deliberately misled the nation into waging an illegal war, it said.

The party says that impeachment - a power last used in 1806 - is the only way to hold the Prime Minister to account.

The text also states that Blair should be tried in the Parliament over his conduct in taking Britain to war. If found guilty, Blair will be arrested by parliament's Sergeant at Arms.

Michael Martin, the speaker in the House of Commons, must judge whether the motion can be presented before the house.

Carmarthen East MP Adam Price has said that there is evidence that Blair lied over the reasons for going to war in Iraq. The motion states Blair’s admission that Iraq didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction at the time of war.

Serious humiliation

The newspaper said that although Blair had little chance of losing an impeachment vote, the very fact that it was held would be regarded as a serious humiliation.

Downing Street has ordered officials to formulate a case against the motion on the basis that it is obsolete.

Adam Pryce, the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru MP who started the campaign to impeach Blair, said that he hoped 30 to 50 members of parliament would back the motion, according to the Independent.

The impeachment attempt will fail unless Plaid Cymru can win over more MPs. Plaid Cymru has said that more than 20 MPs support the impeachment bid, but Labor critics have dismissed it as a foolish stunt.

Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd MP also helped to draft the motion.

“The publication of the text of the motion will put to bed accusations that impeachment was nothing but a silly season stunt," he said.

"If we allow Tony Blair's actions to go unchallenged, a precedent will have been set that a UK Prime Minister can deceive the Welsh and UK public and parliament and get away with it."

The draft also demands a committee to investigate and report to the house on Blair's conduct regarding the war and to consider the following:

  • The report of the U.S. Iraq Survey Group which revealed that in March 2003, when the war began, Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction and had been essentially free of them since the mid-1990s.
  • The ruling of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the war was illegal.
  • "Whether there exist sufficient grounds to impeach... Blair on charges of gross misconduct in his advocacy of the case for war against Iraq and in his conduct of policy in connection with that war."

The legal judgment was released on Thursday by two top lawyers who share the same chambers - Matrix - as the prime minister's wife, Cherie Booth.

The case against the prime minister would be that he was guilty of a serious violation of constitutional principals when he dragged the nation into war.

1/7/2004 5:30:00 PM GMT

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