PRIME MINISTER – IRAQ WAR LEGAL ADVICE – 6 April 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: Whether a full written legal opinion by the Attorney-General on the legality of a possible war against Iraq was shown to the Cabinet in 2003, in addition to the summary of the legal opinion it was shown.

The Prime Minister: As I have said before, the Attorney-General himself came to Cabinet, where he explained his view of the legal position and was able to answer any queries that people raised.

Dr Lewis: The Prime Minister has repeated today what he said on 9 March and again on 16 March, and what the Foreign Secretary said on 24 March – that the Attorney-General took questions at that Cabinet meeting. However, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) is absolutely adamant that members of the Cabinet were not allowed to ask questions. Which is the truth and which is fiction? I know whom I believe – and it is not a man.

The Prime Minister: The Foreign Secretary has explained the position, and I repeat what he has said. I must say this to the hon. Gentleman and some other Conservative Members – I am happy to debate Iraq with people who disagreed fundamentally with that decision. What I find contemptible, however, is that parts of the Conservative party that agreed with the war in Iraq and that urged it upon us are now attempting to resile from that position. That approach will not command respect anywhere.

[NOTE: Support for a war in no way implies support for dishonesty in the procedures used to bring it about.]