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Former UK PM Blair was warned Iraq invasion could be illegal: report

[JURIST] Former UK attorney general Peter Goldsmith [BBC profile] warned former prime minister Tony Blair [official profile; JURIST news archive] that the planned invasion of Iraq could be illegal, according to a letter leaked to the Iraq Inquiry [official website; BBC backgrounder], confirmed [Daily Mail report] by the Daily Mail on Sunday. The July 2002 letter laid out the reasons that Goldsmith believed the Iraq invasion might be illegal, including that an invasion could not be based on "regime change" alone. The existence of this letter will increase the difficulty for Blair to use a good-faith defense against charges that he knowingly led the country into an illegal invasion. He and Goldsmith are likely to be witnesses for the inquiry in the near future.

Sir John Chilcot [Guardian profile] is chairing an inquiry that began [JURIST report] investigations last Tuesday to determine the legality of the Iraq War. Earlier this month, documents implicating improper and possibly illegal conduct in relation to the war were leaked [JURIST report] to the British press. In October 2009, a UK High Court criticized [JURIST report] the Ministry of Defence for its failure to properly set up an independent inquiry into claims that war crimes had been committed by British soldiers following the so-called "Battle of Danny Boy" [BBC backgrounder] in southern Iraq.

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