Tony Blair has denied a report that the British government's chief legal adviser told him before the start of the Iraq War that deposing Saddam Hussein would contravene international law.
Asked by CNN television whether an allegation was true that then-attorney-general Peter Goldsmith was "gagged" after trying to dissuade Blair from lending Britain's support to the US-led war, the former prime minister responded: "No, it's not."
"But I think the best thing with this inquiry is actually to let us all give our evidence to the inquiry," Blair said, responding to a question about the report in Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The newspaper wrote that ministers were secretly told at a July 23, 2002 cabinet meeting that the United States and Britain were set on "regime change" in Iraq and that Goldsmith, who attended the meeting, strongly expressed his disagreement with the policy in a July 29 letter he wrote to Blair.
In the letter, Goldsmith pointed out that war could not be justified purely on the grounds of "regime change", the newspaper reported.
Goldsmith eventually gave qualified legal backing to the conflict days before the war started in March 2003 in a brief, carefully drafted statement.
Sources reportedly said Goldsmith was subjected to such pressure by Blair's close inner circle over his advice that he threatened to resign.
But Blair refuted the newspaper account on Sunday, telling CNN he would have more to say on the matter when he testifies before an inquiry that is probing Britain's involvement in the war.
"I've been through these issues many, many times over the past few years and I'm very happy to go through them again. But I think probably the appropriate place to do that is in front of the inquiry," the former prime minister said.
The inquiry heard in its first week that Britain's ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Jeremy Greenstock, believed the invasion to be "of questionable legitimacy".
The inquiry, Britain's third related to the conflict, is looking at its role in Iraq between 2001 and 2009, when nearly all its troops withdrew and is to report its findings by the end of 2010.
aap 30 Nov 2009
WHAT A JOKE AT THE EXPENSE OF INNOCENT PEOPLE.
A 'head of state' makes up 'excuses ' that invading a country and KILLING it's INNOCENT civilians, is supposedly legal in 'his' eyes.
BLATANT ANGLO - MASONIC ties overriding Human Rights.
Milosevic did the same thing and HE was tried for WAR CRIMES.
BLAIR the Modern Day Molosevic.