Also looks like Labour’s now been forced by the leaks to publish Lord Goldsmith’s advice in full. More, as they say, soon.
Update: .pdf download of the advice now available on the Downing Street website. The BBC has more – as will pretty much everywhere before long.
A reminder, people – whether or not the war was just or moral or right is an entirely different issue to whether or not it was legal. The intervention in Kosovo was, in my opinion, just and right and moral. But it was also illegal.
I have no problem with Blair claiming that it was right to go to war with Iraq – that’s a matter of opinion. I do, however, have every problem with him claiming it was legal.
Update 2: The meat ï¿½ from page 10 of that .pdf:
ï¿½To sum up, the language of resolution 1441 leaves the position unclear and the statements made on adoption of the resolution suggest that there were differences of view within the Council as to the legal effect fo the resolution. Arguments can be made on both sides. A key question is whether there is in truth a need for an assessment of whether Iraqï¿½s conduct constitutes a failure to take the final opportunity or has constituted a failure fully to cooperate within the meaning of OP 4 such that the basis of the cease-fire is destroyed. If an assessment it needed of that sort, it would be for the Council to make it. A narrow textual reading of the resolution suggests that sort of assessment is not needed, because the Council has pre-determined the issue. Public statements, on the other hand, say otherwise.ï¿½
In other words, the only organisation which could have declared military action legal was the UN Security Council. It hadnï¿½t done so. Therefore the war was illegal. Therefore for Blair to say it wasnï¿½t makes Blair a liar.
ï¿½the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation.ï¿½
Hard evidence like, say, not allowing in UN inspectors (which Iraq was) or actually possessing weapons of mass destruction (which Iraq didnï¿½t).
Nice one, Tony. Why not just admit that it may have been illegal but carry on insisting that it was still the right thing to do? You’d get yourself out of a lot of bother…
Update 3: As if by magic, an hour after the legal advice is released comes another propaganda email from the Labour party’s John O’Farrell asking us to “stick to the issues”. Will do, John – the legality of a war in which tens of thousands have died count as an issue? The integrity of a Prime Minister who refuses to accept he acted illegally count as an issue?
Update 5: Yet more from Perfect.