Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cherie - legality of war 'not clear'

Cherie Blair: it is 'not clear' whether Iraq war was legal

Martin Kettle and Nicholas Watt

The Guardian, Saturday May 17 2008

This article appeared in the Guardian on Saturday May 17 2008 on p8 of the UK news section. It was last updated at 00:02 on May 17 2008.

The legal case for the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq "wasn't clear" and "still isn't clear", according to Cherie Blair who admits that she thought deeply about the war.

In a Guardian interview today, Tony Blair's wife says there was no "right answer" to the war in international law and lawyers are still deeply divided.

Cherie Blair, a leading QC who sits as a recorder, said she strongly supported her husband's decision to join the Americans in toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"The one thing I knew was that Tony is a person of integrity and that he was absolutely doing everything he could to avoid a war," says Blair, who was talking about her autobiography, Speaking for Myself, which is published this week. "If he felt in the end this was the right decision for the country then I - who had not seen the papers - was absolutely convinced that it was too."

Tony Blair's decision to go to war without a second UN security council resolution provoked a huge debate in legal circles. Lord Goldsmith, the then attorney general, warned two weeks before the war that the invasion could be illegal. He then said that war was legal on the basis of UN security council resolutions dating back to the aftermath of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Blair says she thought long and hard about the war. "Of course, as a lawyer, I thought about it," she says. "And like everything else, as we know from the attorney general down, and Professor Greenwood, there are different views about this matter." In remarks which may be seized on by critics of the war, she made clear that the matter was not clear cut. "The one thing I would say, as a lawyer, is that we all know that if there had been a right answer to it in international law terms, don't you think that would have been clear. It wasn't clear. It still isn't clear." ...


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