Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had given false evidence to the parliament in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, says a top former official.
Lord Goldsmith, Tony Blair’s top legal advisor at the time, told the Iraq War Inquiry that the prime minister misled parliament by claiming that Britain could legally attack Iraq even without a United Nation’s approval, British media reported.
In evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, the former attorney general said, he had told Blair two month before the invasion that an attack on Iraq would not be legal without a fresh UN mandate.
But, Goldsmith said, the former Labor prime minister told the MPs in a statement on 15 January 2003 that there were “circumstances” in which an attack could be legal without UN approval.
“There are circumstances in which a [UN] resolution is not necessary, because it is necessary to be able to say in circumstances where an unreasonable veto is put down that we would still act,” Blair said during the speech.
Lord Goldsmith said he believed that UN resolution 1441, which was passed in November 2002 and declared Iraq in “material breach” of its obligations to disarm, was not sufficient to sanction war by the UK and United States.
In the new evidence to the inquiry, Lord Goldsmith said in his statement that the phrasing of resolution 1441 was “problematic”.
He was not actively consulted on the final drafting of the resolution after telling Blair in October that the text as it stood did not authorize the use of force.
“I was not being sufficiently involved in the meetings and discussions about the resolution and the policy behind it that were taking place at ministerial level”, said Goldsmith.
“Much of the later difficulties could have been avoided if my view had been sought on the drafts that were developed during the later stages of the negotiations, particularly bearing in mind the fact that I had not been persuaded that the early drafts achieved our objectives”, he said.
The revelations will mount criticism of Blair, who will appear before the inquiry on Friday.
The reasons for the invasion of Iraq, as claimed by former US president George W. Bush and Tony Blair, were “to disarm Iraq of Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs)”.
The claims were revealed afterwards to be empty slogans as the invading governments failed to discover any kinds of WMDs and the US government later confirmed that there were not the weapons for which the US mobilized its allies and went for war.
The war on Iraq killed thousands of people, including more than 4,400 US troops, and devastated the country infrastructure to the extent that its reconstruction would takes many years while the consequences of the invasion would plague the Iraqi people forever.