The British election campaign has exploded into life after yesterday’s accusations that Tony Blair misled parliament over advice he received from the attorney-general, Lord Goldsmith, over the legality of the Iraq war. The full text of that previously secret legal advice has now been released by Downing Street – read it all here.

The Guardianreports that Lord Goldsmith’s advice “ruled out self-defence and humanitarian motives for war. It instead examined and gave support to the argument that resolution 1441 of November 2002 had revived the authority of UN security council Resolution 678 in 1990 to go to war with Saddam Hussein if he had not stuck to the 1991 ceasefire.” It also has an analysis of the report by Anthony Lester QC, a leading human rights lawyer and Liberal Democrat peer.

The Independentasks two legal experts if Tony Blair has misled the British public. Maurice Mendelson QC, an expert in international law, says “yes”: “Whether the prime minister, the foreign secretary and the AG actually lied, the weasel words and economy with the truth was breathtaking, and sullied an already tarnished political process.”

While the opposing viewing view from prominent UK human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman was hardly a vindication of Blair, he says it was “entirely wrong, in my opinion, that Parliament and the public did not have the opportunity to debate the legal and moral issues arising from Mr Blair’s reliance on a dubious legal argument … I believe the failure to disclose the full opinion was a serious mistake that could have influenced Parliament’s decision to support the war.”

But the latest YouGov poll for The Telegraphovernight suggests the Tories aren’t gaining significantly from their attempt to portray Blair as a liar, with the Liberal Democrats are most likely to attract potential vote-switchers.

Most of the London tabloids (there aren’t many broadsheets left) are typically robust in their coverage this morning (see below), except The Sun, which concentrates its coverage on Tom Cruise’s new girlfriend. Or was that just an attempt to deflect attention away from their chosen candidate?

Meanwhile, The Timespredicts more trouble for Blair as it discloses that he’s about to create 16 new Labour peers, making his party the largest group in the Lords for the first time in history.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW