Ex-UK minister wants Iraq war probe

Former British cabinet minister Clare Short is demanding a parliamentary investigation into Attorney General Peter Goldsmith's advice on war with Iraq.

    Clare Short wants the House of Lords to set up a committee

    Short said on Thursday night that Lord Goldsmith breached the

    ministerial code by submitting a summary of his advice to senior

    ministers.

    Two of Prime Minister Tony Blair's key allies were involved in

    drafting a ministerial answer issued in the peer's name, according

    to a leak published in the Guardian newspaper.

    Short said it was this that had earlier been shown to the

    cabinet as it contemplated military action. Britain joined the

    US-led invasion of Iraq on 20 March, 2003.

    "It says in the ministerial code that if any advice from the law

    officers is summarised when it comes to Cabinet the full advice

    should be attached," she told BBC Radio.

    "My view is we need the House of Lords to set up a special

    committee, summon the attorney, get all the papers out, look at

    exactly what happened," Short said.

    Verdict 'set out'

    Goldsmith apparently told an official inquiry the verdict

    presented to Parliament in his name was "set out" by Blair's

    ex-flatmate Lord Charles Falconer and top aide Baroness Morgan.

    Britain joined the US-led invasion
    of Iraq on 20 March, 2003

    Transcripts of private evidence the peer gave to Lord Butler's

    investigation into the use of intelligence in the run-up to war were

    produced by the Guardian.

    The attorney general warned Blair less than two weeks before the

    invasion that military action could be deemed illegal, according to

    previous reports.

    However, he then met Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, then a Home

    Office minister, and the prime minister's director of political

    relations in 10 Downing Street on 13 March.

    'Nonsense'

    Goldsmith reportedly told Butler "they shortly set out my

    view" in the parliamentary statement on 17 March.

    Short, the former international development secretary, who

    initially pledged not to back war without a second United Nations

    resolution, said she was initially suspicious but was won over.

    Goldsmith denied the Guardian report late on Wednesday, calling it

    "nonsense" to say that his legal opinion was written by Downing

    Street insiders.

    Blair's official spokesman said he would not comment on leaks.

    SOURCE: AFP


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