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Iraq: Legality Of Armed Force

Volume 670: debated on Monday 14 March 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Attorney-General has discussed the content of his legal advice to Government with the Prime Minister's Director of Government Relations, Baroness Morgan of Huyton; and, if so, when these discussions took place. [HL1496]

It is not the practice of the Government to disclose the dates of ministerial meetings which is information relating to the formation of government policy.However, it is known from the report of the Butler Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction that I had a meeting with the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff (Mr Powell), his foreign policy adviser (Sir David Manning) and his Director of Government Relations (Baroness Morgan of Huyton) at the end of February 2003. (It has been drawn to my attention that there is a minor error in the information provided by my office to the Butler Review on Intelligence of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The meeting referred to in paragraph 378 of the Butler Report took place on 27, not 28, February 2003.) I had a further meeting with Baroness Morgan and Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 13 March 2003. No minutes were taken of those meetings.My advice was not modified in light of the discussion at these meetings. The advice I gave was my own genuinely held, independent view of the legal position.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Goldsmith on 28 February (

WA 1), whether he discussed the substance of his views on the legality of the war with the Lord Falconer of Thoroton and the Baroness Morgan of Huyton on 28 February 2003, as suggested in paragraph 378 of the Butler report; whether a minute was kept of that meeting; and whether he modified his previous advice on the legality of the war in any way following that meeting; and [HL1553]

What official or unofficial meetings were held between the Attorney-General and the Lord Falconer of Thoroton during the two weeks commencing 3 March 2003; and whether minutes of any such meetings were taken; and [HL1557]

What official or unofficial meetings were held between the Attorney-General and the Baroness Morgan of Huyton during the two weeks commencing 3 March 2003; and whether minutes of any such meetings were taken. [HL1558]

It is not the practice of the Government to disclose the dates of ministerial meetings which is information relating to the formation of government policy.

However, it is known from the report of the Butler Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction that I had a meeting with the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff (Mr Powell), his Foreign Policy Adviser (Sir David Manning) and his Director of Government Relations (Baroness Morgan of Huyton) at the end of February 2003. (It has been drawn to my attention that there is a minor error in the information provided by my office to the Butler Review on Intelligence of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The meeting referred to in paragraph 378 of the Butler Report took place on 27, not 28, February 2003.) I had a further meeting with Baroness Morgan and Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 13 March 2003. No minutes were taken of those meetings.

My advice was not modified in light of the discussion at these meetings. The advice I gave was my own genuinely held, independent view of the legal position.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Goldsmith on 28 February (

WA 1), whether his Written Answer of 17 March 2003 ( WA 2–3) was discussed unofficially with any other official, Minister or Member of either House of Parliament. [HL1554]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave the noble Baroness Hanham on 28 February 2005 (WA 1). As I made clear in that reply, my Written Answer of 17 March 2003 was not discussed with anyone other than the persons mentioned in that reply.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Goldsmith on 28 February (

WA 1), what were the positions of the officials involved in drawing up his Written Answer of 17 March 2003 ( WA 2–3). [HL1555]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 28 February 2005 (WA 1). There were two officials from my office and three from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All the officials were legal advisers.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Goldsmith on 28 February (

WA 1), why Christopher Greenwood QC was involved in drafting the Written Answer of 17 March 2003 ( WA 2–3); and what advice he gave. [HL1556]

Professor Christopher Greenwood QC was instructed to assist the Government in relation to legal issues arising from the Iraq conflict, including the preparation of my Statement to Parliament on 17 March 2003. It is quite appropriate and unexceptional for counsel to be consulted on issues of this nature.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the statement by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 17 March 2003 (

Official Report, col. 117) that "the Attorney-General has been more open-handed than any of his predecessors in publishing his advice in the way that he has", when and how the Attorney-General has published his advice on the legality of the use of armed forces in Iraq. [HL1612]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

On 17 March 2003 (Official Report, cols. WA 2–3), in Answer to my noble friend Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, the Attorney-General set out his view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq. This was not a summary of the Attorney-General's confidential legal advice to Government, but went beyond what previous governments have done by setting out the Attorney-General's conclusions regarding the legality of proposed military action in Iraq.