New admission over legal advice on Iraq invasion (UK)





Fresh questions over the legality of the Iraq war were raised today after the government admitted it could not substantiate its claim that Lord Goldsmith had changed his mind over the legal basis for the invasion before a highly controversial meeting with two of Tony Blair's closest allies.

The admission has revived allegations that the former attorney general was pressured to revise his opinion that an invasion could be illegal without an explicit UN resolution.

Opposition MPs have renewed calls for a full Iraq inquiry in light of the new information.

The revelation comes ahead of a ruling on whether the government should publish minutes of two prewar cabinet meetings at which Goldsmith's advice was discussed.

Two weeks before the invasion, in March 2003, Goldsmith gave Blair a detailed legal opinion that doubted its legality.

Six days later, on 13 March, Goldsmith met Lord Falconer, then a junior minister, and Sally (now Lady) Morgan from Blair's office.

On 17 March, he published a single-page parliamentary answer, asserting that the war would be legal on the basis of existing UN resolutions.

In 2006 Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, ordered the government to disclose details of the process by which Goldsmith had come to his revised conclusion.

However, rather than requiring the publication of actual documents, Thomas allowed the government to publish a narrative account and include material that was not based on documentary evidence.

The Cabinet Office then issued a "disclosure statement" which claimed Goldsmith had informed his legal secretary of his new opinion before he met Morgan and Falconer.

But in response to a new freedom of information request, it has admitted it has "no information" to support this sequence of events.


comments powered by Disqus
History News Network