UK Government faces legal challenge over war in Iraq

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Lawyers for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) have today sent a letter and a top QC's opinion to Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon warning that they will face a legal challenge over Iraq unless a written guarantee is given within 72 hours that the UK will not use armed force against Iraq without a further Security Council Resolution.

 

The legal opinion sent to the Government is from Rabinder Singh QC and Charlotte Kilroy, both at Matrix. The letter has been sent by Public Interest Lawyers, Birmingham.

A summary of the Legal Opinion is that:

· UN Security Council Resolution 1441 does not authorise the use of force by member states of the United Nations.
· The UK would be in breach of international law if it were to use force against Iraq in reliance on R 1441 without a further SC Resolution.

The court action is supported by a variety of other campaign groups such as Campaign Against the Arms Trade, The Legal Inquiry Group and well known personalities such George Monbiot, and Mark Thomas.

Carol Naughton of CND said today: "The Government can be 100% sure that we will go to court unless it gives us the written assurance we seek. We are opposed to this proposed war and consider armed force would make a bad situation worse for the Iraqi people. We deplore the possibility of the UK and US unilaterally taking action to undermine the authority of the Security Council."

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said today: " It is crucially important that our government do not undermine the rule of law by acting without a Security Council Resolution. We have made it clear to the Government that Resolution 1441 does not contain a "trigger" for armed force. The Government respects the democratic structure of the UN and therefore must not undermine the authority of the Security Council. Even if eventually the Security Council issues a clearly worded authorisation, there will be strict limits on what force would be lawful. Armed force to bring about a "regime change" or high level air strikes would be unlawful."

For more information contact
Carole Naughton on: 07712 160006 (mobile)
Phil Shiner on: 0121 212 1868 (work) or 07715485248 (mobile)
Mark Thomas on: 07957 362614 (mobile)