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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 04:35 GMT 05:35 UK
Goldsmith defends Iraq war advice
Lord Goldsmith
The attorney general stands by his view that the war was lawful
The UK Attorney General has strongly defended the legal advice he gave to Prime Minister Tony Blair about going to war in Iraq.

Lord Goldsmith told the Daily Telegraph it was his "genuinely independent" conclusion that the conflict was legal.

He rejected claims that he was leant on as "conspiracy fantasies".

Lord Goldsmith said he had decided to speak out in the light of the leaking of his advice - and allegations made against his professional integrity.

Safest course

The attorney general's advice to Downing Street was published in full during the general election campaign, after it was leaked to the media.

Controversy had surrounded the advice after the government repeatedly declined to release it in the months leading up to the campaign.

I reject suggestions that I was leant on, or that this somehow was not my genuine opinion
Lord Goldsmith

When published, it showed the attorney general had told Tony Blair on 7 March 2003 a second UN resolution was the safest legal course.

Ten days later, on 17 March 2003, Lord Goldsmith's final advice was given to the Cabinet - but included no concerns about the legality of the war.

Interviewed in the Telegraph, Lord Goldsmith dismissed as "conspiracy fantasies" claims that his final judgement was reached under pressure from the government.

He said: "I stand by my conclusion that military action was lawful. That was a judgement I had to reach. I reached it and I stand by it.

READ THE LEGAL ADVICE

"And I reject suggestions that I was leant on, or that this somehow was not my genuine opinion."

The attorney general said he would not have hesitated to give unwelcome legal advice, if that was his genuine opinion.

He had decided to speak out in order to refute allegations made against his professional integrity after the advice was leaked, he added.

Lord Goldsmith repeated his opinion that the war was justified by the "revival" of the original UN Security Council resolution 678, passed in 1990, which authorised the removal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

Critics have asked why the possible doubts and arguments about the legality of the war set out in the attorney general's 7 March advice were not shown to the Cabinet.

Lord Goldsmith's nine-paragraph written answer to Parliament on 17 March raised no such doubts, stating: "Authority to use force against Iraq exists" from previous UN resolutions.




SEE ALSO:
Hoon saw early Iraq legal advice
02 May 05 |  Election 2005
Iraq war legal advice published
28 Apr 05 |  Election 2005
Q&A: Iraq legal advice row
28 Apr 05 |  Election 2005
Analysis: Iraq war legality
28 Apr 05 |  Election 2005


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