Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Lord Goldsmith never wrote a formal legal opinion that the Iraq invasion was legal?

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1423304,00.html

Richard Norton-Taylor, in the February 23, 2005 Guardian, writes that the UK attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, warned less than two weeks before the invasion of Iraq that military action could be illegal.

A parliamentary answer issued days before the war in the name of Lord Goldsmith was drawn up in Downing Street, not in the attorney general's chambers.

According to the Guardian, "it appears that Lord Goldsmith never wrote an unequivocal formal legal opinion that the invasion was lawful, as demanded by Lord Boyce, chief of defence staff at the time."

The Guardian reveals that in her letter of resignation in protest against the war, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office, described the planned invasion of Iraq as a "crime of aggression".

Lord Goldsmith warned Tony Blair in a document on March 7 2003 that the use of force against Iraq could be illegal.

Lord Goldsmith made clear he did not draw up the March 17 written parliamentary answer. They "set out my view", he told the Butler inquiry, referring to Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan.

Yet the following day, March 18, that answer was described in the Commons order paper as the attorney general's "opinion". During the debate, influential Labour backbenchers and the Conservative frontbench said it was an important factor behind their decision to vote for war.

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