Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Regime change by violence an "act of terrorism" in UK law since 1993

Did you know that as long ago as 1993 what Tony Blair calls "regime change" was, in a UK law, specified as "an act of terrorism"?

You didn't?

Did Goldsmith in March 2003?

Did Tony Blair?

Remember Goldsmith told the Chief of the Defence Staff in terms on 13th March 2003 that the use of force would be lawful under both national and international law.

Let's look at what's said in the 1993 Act, which is the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993 by the way, on the topic.

The relevant text is in Section 2(2):

(2) In this section “acts of terrorism” means acts of persons acting on behalf of, or in connection with, any organisation which carries out activities directed towards the overthrowing or influencing, by force or violence, of Her Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom or any other government de jure or de facto.

It's an "act of terrorism" for persons acting on behalf of "any organisation" to do anything with the aim of overthrowing a government. Does that apply only to aiming to overthrow the UK government. No, it also applies to "any other government".


When Blair was proposing overthrowing the government of Iraq did Goldsmith (you know the Peter Goldsmith who allegedly looked carefully at national law) say something like, "Look Tony, it could be embarrassing for the UK to be seen to be carrying out something called an act of terrorism in our own law. You'll look a bit of a twat if you're seen to be carrying out an act of terrorism while you're rabitting on publicly about a war against terrorism."?

We haven't been told. At Chilcot. Or elsewhere. As far as I'm aware.

Did you spot that Section 2(2) calls it an act of terrorism as far back as 1993 to do something involving force or violence which was intended to influence a government. Remember that's any goverment anywhere. I suggest that even Tony Blair should have worked out that the government of Iraq was covered by the wording.

Do I hear you suggest that nowhere in the Reinsurance (Act of Terrorism) 1993 does it state that "an act of terrorism" is an offence.

And you'd be correct in suggesting that.

But, remember, it's late 2002 and early 2003 when Peter Goldsmith is carrying out his assessment of national law. Is there anything at that time which might land Tony Blair deep in the doo doo as Tony "The Terrorist" Blair?

If you've been paying attention in earlier posts you've probably already got the answer: our old friend Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Look at Section 1(1)(b):

(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and


Things are getting worse for Tony with the arrival of the Terrorism Act 2000. It's still terrorism to attempt to influence a government involving acts such as those causing serious violence against a person (Section 1(2)(a)) or serious damage to property (section 1(2)(b)) and which are for a political purpose (Section 1(1)(c)).

Ah, but maybe now it doesn't apply to Iraq. It says "the government" so maybe it only applies to the UK Government.

Good try. But you need to look at Section 1(4)(d):

d) “the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

Is Iraq a country? Yes, Iraq is a country.

So, with the enactment of the Terrorism Act 2000, doing what Tony Blair is doing with respect to Iraq is still an "act of terrorism" in UK law (it having been so since 1993).

But with the enactment of the Terrorism Act 2000 on 20th July 2000 the situation for Tony "The Terrorist" Blair, Ministers, civil servants and military personnel had got a whole lot worse.


In the same Act of Parliament where Tony's naughtiness in Iraq is again indicated as being an "act of terrorism", it links such acts of terrorism to offences with penalties up to life imprisonment (Section 56 is an example).

And there are offences which seem to catch Ministers, civil servants and military personnel too.

Now, remember Peter Goldsmith has told the Chief of the Defence staff what is proposed in Iraq is legal under both international and national law.

Mega oops!

Now, let's shift the focus to the Chilcot Inquiry.

They're a professional bunch aren't they? I'll let you answer that one.

And they have a paid legal adviser? Yes

Remember Sir John Chilcot's words, in his Opening Statement, "We will approach our task in a way that is thorough, rigorous, fair and frank. "

So, what has happened as a result? What has Sir John's "thorough" and "rigorous" examination been of a situation where Tony Blair appears to have committed at least one "act of terrorism" (as defined in Section 1 of theTerrorism Act 2000) involving probably rendering himself liable to life imprisonment on conviction (see Section 56 of the Act) consisted of?

Sweet nothing.

Chilcot hasn't asked Blair about it.

Chilcot hasn't asked Goldsmith about it.

Why not?

And when are these immensely serious questions going to be asked by the Iraq Inquiry?

I would certainly like to know.

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