Sunday, April 24, 2005

Leak of Attorney General's legal advice on Iraq War.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4477943.stm
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=632492

The legal advice given to the UK government by the Attorney General in the run-up to the Iraq war has been leaked.

The Mail on Sunday reports that Lord Goldsmith set out six reasons why the war could be considered to breach international laws.

The Mail on Sunday claims the six "caveats" were stripped from a summary of the advice published 10 days later on the eve of a crucial parliamentary debate on the war.

They reportedly included warnings that only the United Nations could judge whether Saddam Hussein had defied its order to disarm and that Mr Blair could not rely on the American position that the war was legal.

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http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1469235,00.html

According to the Mail on Sunday, the 13 pages of legal advice warned that Blair could be in breach of international law for six reasons ranging from the lack of a second United Nations resolution to UN inspector Hans Blix's continuing search for weapons.

Robin Cook said he had resigned because he considered it wrong to go to war without a second UN resolution. 'What we know now is that the Attorney General appears to have agreed with me,' he said.

According to the legal advice:

1. A court might well rule that only the UN, not Blair, could decide whether or not Iraq had defied orders to disarm.

2. It was questionable that Britain could rely on UN resolution 1441 - warning of 'serious consequences' if Saddam Hussein flouted the UN ruling - as grounds for invasion; it would be safer to proceed with a second UN resolution.

3. It could be difficult to revive UN resolution 678, passed in 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait, as justification for the war. Goldsmith highlighted a report by Blix that Iraq was being more compliant.

The caveats were not mentioned in the statement Goldsmith published in the House of Lords, on 17 March.

Reportedly, the full legal document was not seen by the Cabinet.

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