A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

UK officer faces court-martial for opposing Iraq war

[JURIST] A British Royal Air Force [official website] medical officer has become the first member of the UK military to face criminal charges for disobeying a lawful command because he refused to fight in Iraq, claiming the war there is illegal. Flight-Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, decorated from operations in Afghanistan and two previous tours in Iraq, will be court-martialed at a military base in front of a senior judge and at least five high ranking officers, without a jury. Preliminary proceedings are expected to start later this year. Kendall-Smith studied the legal position of the war in Iraq after his first two tours there, and subsequently concluded the war was “manifestly unlawful.” A number of international lawyers have claimed there was no legal justification [opinion website] for invading Iraq because the US and Britain did not wait for the UN to pass a second resolution authorizing military force, and even English Attorney General Lord Goldsmith expressed reservations about the war [JURIST report]. Relying on the Royal Air Force manual, Kendall-Smith will argue that a serving officer may refuse to obey commands if an action is unlawful. The Times of London has local coverage.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.