Tony Blair to appear before Iraq war inquiry

Blair to make second appearance at inquiry, a year after he first gave evidence, in light of revelations about advice he received on the legality of the war

Richard Norton-Taylor
Guardian

Tony Blair, summoned back to the inquiry into the Iraq invasion in light of damaging and conflicting evidence revealed since he answered questions a year ago, is to appear before Sir John Chilcot on 21 January, it has been revealed.

A ballot has been held for 60 seats, with a third reserved for family members who lost loved ones in Iraq, the inquiry has announced. All the people who were successful in the ballot will be notified in the next few days, it said.

The former prime minister will attend in light of evidence about the legality of the invasion, and assurances he gave George Bush.

The inquiry is believed to be concerned about the revelation in documents released in June showing that the day before he privately assured Bush he would back US-led military action, Blair was warned by Lord Goldsmith, then attorney general, that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal.

Documents reveal how Goldsmith repeatedly warned Blair of the consequences of invading Iraq without fresh UN authority.

A note from Goldsmith to Blair, marked secret and dated 30 January 2003, stated: “I thought you might wish to know where I stand on the question of whether a further decision of the [UN] security council is legally required in order to authorise the use of force against Iraq.”

Goldsmith warned Blair that “the correct legal interpretation of resolution 1441 [the last security council decision on Iraq] is that it does not authorise the use of force without a further determination by the security council”. He concluded: “My view remains that a further [UN] decision is required.”

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