Straw ‘rejected advice on Iraq’

Paola Totaro; 28/1/10

The British Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has been humiliated by his former legal adviser who said his boss had twice overruled his entreaties against military action in Iraq while he was foreign secretary. In a tense day at the Chilcot inquiry, Sir Michael Wood, Mr Straw’s chief legal adviser at the time of the invasion, contradicted Mr Straw’s evidence that he had only ”very reluctantly” supported the military decision. Mr Straw had told the inquiry of his moral and political anguish before the invasion in 2003. But Sir Michael said that not only had Mr Straw told his US counterpart, Colin Powell, he was ”entirely comfortable” arguing for war, he had also told his legal adviser that he had often ignored legal advice from the Home Office without consequence. Sir Michael said that when he had voiced his view about the illegality of action, Mr Straw ”took the view that I was being very dogmatic and that international law was pretty vague and that he wasn’t used to people taking such a firm position”. ”When he had been at the Home Office, he had often been advised things were unlawful but he had gone ahead anyway and won in the courts.”