Straw Defends Role over 'Illegal' Invasion of Iraq; on the Defensive: Lord Goldsmith and Jack Straw

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Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL

TWO senior Labour figures have hit back after their role in backing the invasion of Iraq was condemned as "f lawed".

Lord Goldsmith and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw defended their actions after Lord Bingham, the former senior law lord and one of Britain's most respected judicial experts, described the military action by Britain and the US as a "serious violation of international law".

The intervention by Lord Bingham, a former Master of the Rolls and Lord Chief Justice, will reignite the debate over the Iraq war as the Government seeks to finalise a deal with Baghdad on British troops remaining in the south of the country.

Lord Goldsmith, who was Attorney General at the time of the 2003 invasion, defended his view that it was lawful.

He said: "Lord Bingham is entitled to his own legal perspective five years after the event, but at the time and since then many nations other than ours took part in the action and did so believing that they were acting lawfully." He added that the UN resolution that Iraq was deemed to have failed to comply with, and which ultimately led to the invasion, did not need further determination by the Security Council. Mr

Straw, who was Foreign Secretary in 2003, accused Lord Bingham of failing to fully take into consideration the key UN resolution 1441 and specifically whether it laid down the need for an "additional lock" further decision to allow military action.

"In the event, the agreed text of 1441 was in accordance with the US/UK position that this resolution did not require this further lock," he said.

"So I do not accept Lord Bingham's conclusions, which do not, I am afraid, take proper account of the text of Security Council Resolution 1441 nor its negotiating history. …