PMQs: Ian Blackford calls for UK Government to amend War Crimes Act and bring Vladimir Putin to justice

Ian Blackford has called for the UK Government to amend the War Crimes Act to help bring Russian president Vladimir Putin to justice.

The SNP Westminster leader urged Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions to support charging Russia with the “crime of aggression” by a state and put him in the Hague.

Speaking at PMQs, Mr Blackford pointed to a family of five murdered in Kherson, and a 12-year old boy who tried to save his mum killed in their home.

He said: "These war crimes are happening in Europe right now – Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire

"And one day soon Putin must face justice in The Hague.

"Mr Speaker, to prosecute Putin and his regime, the full range of war crime charges needs to be used, including the ‘crime of aggression’ by a state.

"But the UK has always refused to sign up to the prosecution of this crime in international law.

"Surely with Putin’s crimes of aggression in plain and horrific sight in Ukraine, now is the right time to drop that opposition.

"Will the Prime Minister meet with me to discuss this? Will he amend the UK's War Crimes Act and will he support the ICC [International Criminal Court] prosecution of Putin for his crimes of aggression against the people of Ukraine?”.

The Prime Minister agreed to meet with Mr Blackford, but claimed there was already enough evidence to charge the Russian president.

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Mr Johnson said: “What we have seen already in the use of the munitions they have been dropping on innocent civilians already qualifies as a war crime.

"I know the ICC prosecutor is already investigating.”

It came in a session that also saw Mr Johnson announce the Disasters Emergency Committee is launching a Ukraine appeal where every pound donated by the public will be matched by the UK Government, starting with £20 million.

He said: “Putin has gravely miscalculated. In his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.

“The UN General Assembly will vote later today and we call on every nation to join us in condemning Russia and demanding that Putin turns his tanks around.

“If instead Putin doubles down, then so shall we, further ratcheting up economic pressure and supporting Ukraine with finance, with weapons and with humanitarian assistance."

Earlier the Labour leader pressed Mr Johnson on why the Russian-Israeli owner of Chelsea FC, Roman Abramovich, has not been sanctioned.

Sir Keir Starmer said: “We must stand up to Putin and those who prop up his regime.

"Roman Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea Football Club and various other high-value assets in the United Kingdom. He’s a person of interest to the Home Office because of his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices.

“Last week, the Prime Minister said that Abramovich is facing sanctions. He later corrected the record to say that he isn’t. Well, why on earth isn’t he?”

Mr Johnson replied it was not “appropriate” for him to comment on individual cases at this stage.

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