Iraq War 'Violated International Law'

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Byline: Kirsty Walker

BRITAIN'S most respected former judge yesterday branded the invasion of Iraq a 'serious violation of international law'.

Lord Bingham, who retired as a senior law lord in September, added that the legal advice ministers used to justify the war was 'flawed'.

He said the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had failed to acknowledge the lack of hard evidence to establish Iraq's noncompliance with United Nations resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.

His advice also neglected to make clear that only the UN Security Council could authorise further action.

Lord Bingham, 74, added: 'The moment that a state treats the rules of international law as binding on others but not on itself, the compact on which the law rests is broken.' It is the first time Lord Bing- ham, a former Lord Chief Justice and Master of the Rolls who featured in key human rights rulings, has expressed his views about the advice given to Tony Blair.

In a wide-ranging lecture to mark the 50th anniversary of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, he said the invasion undermined the principle that force should not be used - except in self defence - unless authorised by the Security Council.

UN resolution 1441, which ministers claimed at the time justified the invasion of Iraq, was 'not an express further decision to authorise force'.

Lord Bingham said: 'First, it was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show it had.

'Hans Blix and his team of weapons inspectors had found no weapons of mass destruction, were making progress and expected to complete their task in a matter of months. …