Fascinating evidence in London about the criminality of the Iraq war (though this begs the question: why didn’t more senior officials resign before the invasion?)
The invasion of Iraq was illegal, a senior government lawyer told the Chilcot inquiry into the war today.
Sir Michael Wood, legal adviser to the Foreign Office in the run-up to the invasion, said he “considered that the use of force against Iraq in 2003 was contrary to international law”.
“In my opinion, that use of force had not been authorised by the [United Nations] security council, and had no other legal basis in international law,” he said in a witness statement to the inquiry.
Wood told the inquiry panel that Jack Straw, the foreign secretary before and during the war, remarked that international law was “pretty vague” and offered a certain amount of leeway. When Wood disagreed, Straw said he was being “dogmatic”.
Wood’s opinion of the illegality of the war was echoed by Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the government lawyer who was the only British civil servant to resign over the Iraq war.
In a statement to the inquiry, released ahead of her appearance this afternoon, Wilmshurst said the invasion was not only illegal but would damage the reputation of the UK as a law-abiding nation.
Declassified documents released by the inquiry show that Wood warned ministers three months before the invasion that it was not certain if military action would be legal.
George Monbiot is raising money online to fund a citizen’s arrest of Tony Blair for his key role in initiating the supreme war crime of invading Iraq.