There was a clash of opinion at the highest level. The lives of thousands, as well as this country's relationship with its greatest ally, would depend on the outcome.Bar watchers love Anthony Scrivener for his great name and his cogent commentary. But to many, this looks like bollocks. After all, it was not that long ago, and we all remember knowing then that the proposed invasion was justified by false evidence, was illegal and - most important of all - was wrong. There may be many Silks who will take much money to give an Opinion, but we knew then what we know now: it was all a lie.
Where there is such a clash the matter is not resolved simply by taking the advice of the most senior counsel – particularly in a case like this, which was concerned with the highly specialised area of international law. It is probable that Foreign Office lawyers had greater experience of international law than Lord Goldsmith, whose main experience lay in commercial law. The obvious course to take was to obtain a second opinion from a Queen's Counsel who was a specialist in international law. There are several such experts.
If you want justifications, you can find them elsewhere in the Independent, in a pease pudding of excuses. Here's a spoonful:
Blair put some of the dilemmas to me in an interview for The Independent in 2005. I quote it at length partly to show that leadership is more demanding and interesting than screaming that someone is a war criminal. It is also the only example I can find where Blair is reflective rather than unapologetically crusading, an unattractive evangelical façade that is partly a defence mechanismLeadership; demanding, interesting leadership, reflected upon by someone who usually defends himself with an unattractive evangelical façade (a bit like Holy Trinity Brompton). This man clearly is far too interesting to be a war criminal. However, if you get the opportunity, here are some tips on how to arrest Blair.
Meanwhile, Matthew Norman provides a more gratifying opinion:
Recalling that he had to be woken soon after midnight to be told that the invasion of Iraq had begun, you may detect a vicious little irony here. That he could sleep peacefully as his troops went into harm's way then, but dare not sleep when poised to explain why now, is an indecently cute vignette of a warped morality.