In damning testimony from the governments legal advisors at the time preceeding and during the Iraq war were heard by the Chilcot Inquiry today.
The deputy legal advisor to the foreign office at the time, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, made her department’s position on the war clear today when she said the legal department disagreed with the war being lawful saying that “All of the lawyers dealing with the matter at the foreign office were entirely of one view”.
Wilmshurst went on to resign on the eve of the war as she did not feel that she could support the government going ahead with an illegal war. Her resignation letter, in which she pointed out that the planned invasion was a “crime of aggression” , had been altered by the government to conceal references about the disputed legality but was later fully released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Her boss, Sir Michael Wood, spoke of how Jack Straw had told him that he had often been told things were illegal but still went on to win in court. Although Sir Wood also considered resigning he understandably did not see why he should as long as he presents the situation honestly.
I say understandably as it would be wrong if the people who speak out against the criminal elements of the war to are the ones to loose their jobs. Those with an agenda that, to them, transcends law and the sufferings of war should be the ones to loose their jobs surely? Otherwise the whole system would just become more and more corrupt.
One could ask that if we had not been invaded, the British public were against the war and we clearly did not have a legal right to go to war, why did we?
A blog which follows the live proceedings of the Iraq inquiry can be found here