All entries for Wednesday 27 April 2005

April 27, 2005

Attorney General less than confident about war on March 7th 2003.

Writing about web page

I've just been watching Channel 4 news and they're somehow managed to procure a copy of an earlier version of advice from the Attorney General than that which had hitherto been available, which suggests that the legal justification for the Iraq war was not as unequivocal as the government has been claiming.

For example:

27. In these circumstances, I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force. [...] The key point is that it should establish that the Council has concluded that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441, as in the draft which has already been tabled.
29. However, the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation. Given the structure of the resolution as a whole, the views of UNMOVIC and the IAEA will be highly significant in this respect. In the light of the latest reporting by UNMOVIC, you will need to consider very carefully whether the evidence of non-cooperation and non- compliance by Iraq is sufficiently compelling to justify the conclusion that Iraq has failed to take its final opportunity. (Emphasis added).
I judge that, having regard to the arguments on both sides, and considering the resolution as a whole in the light of the statements made on adoption and subsequently, a court might well conclude that OPs 4 and 12 do requ1re a further Council decision in order to revive the authorisation in resolution 678. But equally I consider that the counter view can be reasonably maintained.
However, it must be recognised that on previous occasions when military action was taken on the basis of a reasonably arguable case, the degree of public and Parliamentary scrutiny of the legal issue was nothing as great as it is today.
31. The analysis set out above applies whether a second resolution fails to be adopted because of a lack of votes or because it is vetoed. As I have said before, I do not believe that there is any basis in law for arguing that there is an implied condition of reasonableness which can be read into the power of veto conferred on the permanent members of the Security Council by the UN Charter.
So there are no grounds for arguing that an "unreasonable veto" would entitle us to proceed on the basis of a presumed Security Council authorisation. In any event, if the majority of world opinion remains opposed to military action, it is likely to be difficult on the facts to categorise a French veto as "unreasonable". The legal analysis may, however, be affected by the course of events over the next week or so, eg the discussions on the draft second resolution.
If we fail to achieve the adoption of a second resolution we would need to consider urgently at that stage the strength of our legal case in the light of circumstances at the time."

Not altogether surprising, but I'm surprised that even this government managed to get 'go right ahead' out of that.

Reply from Simon Lucas

Follow-up to Open letter to Simon Lucas from Luke's blog

I've just received a reply to the e-mail I sent to Simon Lucas yesterday re. the John Cross issue:

I'm sorry Luke, but I'm sure you'll understand that I simply cannot comment on this issue.



Which is all right and proper. I just hope that the depth of feeling on this issue is taken into account next week as this issue has already cost the Union dearly and it would be terrible if it cost more.

I have just sent the following reply:


Thanks for the reply. I applaud your integrity in refusing to comment at this stage which I fully expected; I simply felt that I should make my feelings on the issue clear to you.


Another Union officer resigns

Writing about My resignation from Mike's blog

Mike Britland, the Chair of the Union's Democracy Committee has resigned over what increasingly appears to be the fiasco of John Cross's disciplinary hearing at the hands of the Union. I would urge even non-officers to write to Simon Lucas c/o the Students' Union or to e-mail him at to protest the shabby way in which John has been treated, and to turn up to Union Council next Thursday at 7pm in S0.21 to make your feelings known on the issue.

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