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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Iraq 'legal' despite flawed case
Lord Goldsmith
The attorney general is the government's chief legal adviser
The attorney general has said attacking Iraq was legal despite an inquiry finding intelligence used to justify the war was "seriously flawed".

Lord Goldsmith said the case for war was based on Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with UN resolutions.

He argued that the case had not been altered by the Butler Report which prompted Tony Blair to concede Saddam did not have WMD before the war.

On Wednesday Charles Kennedy called again for legal advice to be published.

No more faith?

The Lib Dem leader insisted the legality of the war was still an issue.

Mr Blair has argued he acted in good faith. He also denied the invasion was a mistake.

They put exclamation marks where there had been question marks and I think that is hyping
Hans Blix
Tory leader Michael Howard said that voters would not trust the prime minister to lead the country to war again because his credibility had been damaged by the case he had made.

Lord Butler's inquiry, set up to look at the accuracy and use of intelligence in the run-up to the war, found the premier had given the impression intelligence was "fuller and firmer" about WMD than it actually was.

It also suggested that MI6 had relied on "untried" agents in Iraq because of the intense demands from Whitehall for information.

'Cleared'

But it cleared Mr Blair and other ministers from deliberately misleading the public over the war.

"As is clear from the written answer the attorney general gave in Parliament on 17 March 2003, the basis of his view of the legality of military action in Iraq was the repeated failure of Saddam Hussein and his regime to comply with successive UN Security Council resolutions," the attorney general's statement said.

"Lord Butler's review has seen the Attorney General's advice. His report confirms - as we have always maintained - that it was 'based on the interpretation of relevant Security Council resolutions and negotiating history in the United Nations, and not on WMD-related intelligence'.

"So the lawfulness of the conflict is not undermined by the failure to find WMD or by any reassessment of the intelligence.

"The attorney's view is that the military action taken in Iraq was lawful.

"That was his independent view at the time, and it is still his view.

Removed questions marks?

"The government has acted in accordance with the Attorney's advice at all times."

Hans Blix, former UN chief weapons inspector, said the UK Government's September dossier published in 2002 was "hyped and spun" to a point where the public was misled.

Dr Blix criticised the fact warnings about the reliability of Western intelligence on Iraq's weapons capability in the actual intelligence were not included in the dossier.

Dr Blix told the BBC's Hardtalk programme: "I think it was a spin that was not acceptable.

"They put exclamation marks where there had been question marks and I think that is hyping, a spin, that leads the public to the wrong conclusions."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Carole Walker
"Mr Blair will be under pressure to implement (Lord Butler's) recommendations"



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