» Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Attorney General’s Legal Advice (War)

Asked why the Government had not published the Attorney General’s advice the PMOS the Attorney General had made it clear that he had given that advice, that it was his independent advice, and that in his opinion the war was legal because Saddam had broken UN resolutions. Therefore that was the basis, which he had set out at the time, why he came to the view that he had. Asked why the advice on the wedding was available but not the advice on the war the PMOS said it was because there was a distinction. The Lord Chancellor was setting out the reasoning. The Attorney General had also set out his reasoning but not the detailed advice.

Asked if Downing Street disputed Phillipe Sands’ version of events, in other words that while at the time we were told the Attorney General had said there was a legal basis for war but there was in fact no such advice but it was based on a conversation between the Attorney General, Baroness Morgan and the Lord Chancellor, the PMOS said that we were not in the habit of doing book reviews and were not about to. Neither were we in the habit of going into discussions within Government. But the Attorney General in his statement this morning had set out very clearly that it was his legal view which he had expressed independently. Asked whether the suggestion that the opinion presented to Ministers was drawn up in Downing Street by those people, as the perception had been that it was driven by No10 seeking stronger advice, the PMOS said that what was important was what the Attorney General had said. The legal advice was from the Attorney General and that was what counted. As such that suggestion was wrong.

Put to him that, politically speaking, it was more important for the spokesperson from Downing Street to go on the record about the legality of the war than the Attorney General, the PMOS said that legally it was what the Attorney General said which counted and that the assertion that someone else wrote the Attorney General’s advice for him was wrong. Put to him that Professors Sands had said that there was no actual written judgment on the legality of the war but rather the decision was made on the basis of a discussion between Downing Street officials and the Attorney General, the PMOS said that he did not give book reviews.

Asked if the Attorney General had actually written his statement himself, the PMOS said that the Attorney General had made it clear that it was his words and judgment. That was what was important.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Why does the Government simply not come clean and tell the outside world what a few in the defence / arms trade have known for years.

    Namely the true and precise identity of the WMD and their countries of origin that caused Gulf War-2 to have to happen.

    The lid cannot be kept on it indefinitely.


    Comment by michael blatchford — 25 Feb 2005 on 8:44 am | Link
  2. It’s easy, really. The government cannot and will not publish for one very simple reason – because they have something to hide. Either the AGs advice specified that an invasion would not be legal, or it would not be legal if WMD were not found (bearing in mind this was the central justification). Either way, the government know that the whole anti-war sentiment would be rekindled tenfold if it were then to become public knowledge that they HAD lied. Ok, anyone with an ounce of common sense knows they were lied to, but it’s the proving it which is the big sticking point – and the AGs advise is one of the few things which could hang Tony B.Liar out to dry. So I fear we have as much chance of them publishing as we have of Tony showing his arse out of the No. 10 lavvy window…

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 25 Feb 2005 on 11:51 am | Link

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