For immediate release: 7 July 2003

Lawyers acting for CND and other groups [1] today urge the government to take this opportunity to avoid further embarrassing litigation over the legality of war with Iraq. Litigation to force the government to hold an independent judicial inquiry must follow today’s publication of the Foreign Affairs Committee Report on the decision to go to war in Iraq unless the government now announce that inquiry.

The Select Committee concludes that: “the continued refusal by ministers to allow this Committee access to intelligence papers and personnel, on this inquiry and more generally, is hampering it in the work that Parliament has asked it to carry out.” Further as far as the central charge is concerned that the Government, and specifically the Prime Minister, misled Parliament and the rest of the country it is forced to accept the government’s own assessment of the intelligence and concludes: “that without access to the intelligence or to those who handled it, we cannot know if it was in any respect faulty or misinterpreted.”

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, the solicitor acting in this case, said today: “the case for an independent inquiry couldn’t be clearer. The Select Committee investigation has not been able to get to the bottom of these questions which are of fundamental importance. Evidence to suggest that the government misled the country has to be scrutinised very carefully if the twin pillars of democracy, transparency and honesty, are to be respected. There is a growing consensus amongst international lawyers that, not only was the war entered into without legal justification, but also the force used was illegal especially in the use of cluster bombs in urban areas. There must now be an independent judicial inquiry into these legal issues bearing in mind the inability of the public and parliament to judge whether or not we were misled without access to the information that has been withheld from this committee.”

Carole Naughton, chair of CND said today: “ It is incredible that this committee, having concluded that it cannot do its work properly without the governments’ cooperation and access to intelligence, then conclude that ministers did not mislead Parliament. That conclusion is unsubstantiated and shows the Committee’s lack of independence and supports our call for an independent inquiry.”


Notes for Editors

1. The lawyers instructed in this matter include Rabinder Singh of Matrix.

i. For more information contact the CND Press Office on 07973-420-859

ii. CND – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was formed in 1958 and has expert knowledge on all nuclear issues