There was correspondence between the Ministry of Defence and the Attorney General's Office around 13th and 14th March 2003 which, as far as I can trace, has never been publicly disclosed.
It's in one of those documents, I understand, that Goldsmith supposedly claimed that the war was legal in International and UK Law, in response to a specific question from the Chief of Defence Staff. The latter, quite understandably, wanted to cover his back.
So far as I can trace the correspondence has still not been disclosed.
I wish I'd been clever (or alert) enough two years ago to ask these questions.
But better late than never, I guess.
I guess the process could take a couple of years to progress through Internal Review, the Information Commissioner etc.
This is a Freedom of Information Request.
I wish to ask for a copy of the following documents:
1. The letter(s) or other communication(s) in March 2003 from the Ministry of Defence to the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith about the legal basis for going to war in Iraq.
2. The letter(s) or other communications(s) in March 2003 from the Attorney General's Office to the Ministry of Defence about the legal basis for going to war in Iraq.
With respect to questions 1. and 2. I am asking only for documents dated in March 2003.
3. If, in the first instance, you decide to withhold copies of the items referred to in Question 1. I ask for a table with the following information about the documents: Date, From, To, Number of pages, Subject, Classification Level
4. If, in the first instance, you decide to withhold copies of the items referred to in Question 2. I ask for a table with the following information about the documents: Date, From, To, Number of pages, Subject, Classification Level.
With respect to "Classification Level" I mean was the document classified as "Confidential", "Restricted" etc.
It may be helpful for you to be aware that I endeavoured to locate the requested documents on a number of Government websites as well as the Iraq Inquiry website, without success.
In the interests of transparency it occurs to me that you're likely to rely on Sections 35(1)(a), 35(1)(b) and 35(1)(c) in your response to this FOI Request.
If you should choose to rely on such an exemption I anticipate I will seek, in sequence, Internal Review, escalation to consideration by the Information Commissioner etc.
These are documents of immense public interest.
I would be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this Freedom of Information Request.
(Dr) Andrew Watt
I'm not holding my breath.
Unless the documents are declassified then this will be a long haul to get to the truth, I think.
I think you'll find that the Iraq Inquiry has already released these documents. There was correspondence between Martin Hemming, Legal Advisor, MoD, and David Brummell, Legal Secretary to the Law Officers (including the AG) on 12 and 14 March 2003 concerning the AG's advice. There is also a note dated 13 March by Brumell:ReplyDelete
I think that these are all the documents that will exist on this specific point, there isn't likely to have been a letter direct from AG Goldsmith to Lord Boyce precisely spelling out the legal justification.
In short, I tend to believe that the Brummel to Hemming letter IS the certificate that SJC referred to (perhaps vaguely) on page 88 of this transcript:
Very many thanks for the links.
The links you've provided are to the documents that I was specifically (on the basis of what had been disclosed) looking for.
The FOI Requests may reveal that there are documents that we don't yet know about.
For the ease of others I'll include live links here to the three documents you drew attention to.
I've spent ages on the Iraq Inquiry site in the past looking for those (presumably at a time when they hadn't been declassified. Also the structure of the Chilcot site is awful (but may be intended to be).
Once again, many thanks for the pointers to those documents.
They are, I believe, of crucial importance.
Once I have completed a "little project" about the suspicious death of David Kelly I hope to post in more detail about the importance of the links you drew my attention to.
Do you happen to know if the "CDS's Directive" mentioned here, http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/52507/hemming-brummell-position-cds-2003-03-12.pdf is in the public domain?
I am not aware of the publication of this document.
The II website lists documents relevant to specific testimony, for example:
There is mention of COS (Chiefs of Staff) (committee) meetings and papers, this directive would have presumably been introduced at some point subsequent to the 16th meeting of 12 March and before the next entry refering to the 19th meeting of 19 March.
Just out of curiosity - do you think there is some sort of smoking gun here?
With respect to the CDS's Directive? I'm not sure but suspect there may well be.
With respect to Goldsmith's blanket assurance to the MoD?
I think there's more than a smoking gun - there's a smoking howitzer.
On two grounds in UK Law the UK military action was unlawful, I believe.
One I've drawn to Chilcot's attention.
The other I'm not sure if anyone has formally told Chilcot about.
I'll try to check and write a post on this blog when I've found out.