Leaked UK memo shows Blair committed to Iraq war without legal advice

[JURIST Europe] A leaked memo reported in the UK Guardian newspaper Friday shows that Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile] had committed to US plans to invade Iraq well before seeking legal advice on the military action and any second UN resolution giving more definitive authorization. The memo is described in more detail in a new edition of a book [publisher's website] by UK international law scholar and human rights lawyer Phillipe Sands [academic profile; 2005 ABC Australia recorded audio]. It details a two-hour White House meeting on January 31, 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - between Blair and US President George W. Bush [official profile] in which Blair assured Bush he was 'solidly' behind US plans. Three weeks later, Mr. Blair informed the House of Commons of a plan to give "Saddam one further, final chance to disarm voluntarily," an action not discussed by the leaders, according to the memo. Although acknowledging the memo's existence, Blair's office has refused to comment on the conversation. UK Foreign Office lawyers repeatedly expressed doubts about the legality of the invasion, although final legal advice tendered to the government by English Attorney General Lord Goldsmith ten days before the war appeared to support it, contrary to what one senior deputy who resigned over the war later claimed to be his personal views to the contrary. The Guardian has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

 

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