Jul 26, 2006

British Government May Have To Explain Decision To Go To War In Iraq, Court says

This could prove to be a bit of a sticky wicket:

The families of four British soldiers killed in Iraq won the right today to challenge the government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into why Britain joined the war, a ruling their lawyers described as a "stunning victory".

The decision by the court of appeal overturned an earlier high court ruling denying the relatives the right to apply for judicial review of the government's decision.

The panel of appeal court judges rejected arguments from lawyers representing the prime minister, the secretary of state for defence and the attorney general that it would be an "unwarranted shift of power" for the courts to make pronouncements on the government's right to go to war. (...)

"This is a stunning victory," said Phil Shiner, the families' solicitor.

"The government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the court of appeal. That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade was lawful.

"In particular, the government must finally explain how the 13-page equivocal advice from the attorney general of March 7 2003 was changed within 10 days to a one-page, completely unequivocal advice that an invasion would be legal.

"My clients believe he impermissibly changed his advice because he was sat on by the prime minister and others in government. In changing his advice he sent these soldiers to their deaths."

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