Minister warned Blair on Iraq problems

Richard Norton-Taylor, 19/1/10

Tony Blair’s former foreign secretary, Jack Straw, privately warned the then prime minister in 2002 that an invasion of Iraq was legally dubious, questioned what such action would achieve, and challenged US claims about the threat from Saddam Hussein, it has been revealed. Mr Straw gave what now seems prophetic advice in a letter marked ”secret and personal”, 10 days before Mr Blair met George Bush at the US president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. That was nearly a year before the invasion. In his letter, about which he is expected to be questioned when he testifies at the Chilcot inquiry this week, Mr Straw warned Mr Blair: ”The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few … there is at present no majority inside the PLP [parliamentary Labour Party] for any military action against Iraq.”