CND and Peacerights are seeking unequivocal assurances from Iraq Inquiry Chairman Sir John Chilcot that the Iraq Inquiry will be public. They are also seeking assurances on the scope of the Inquiry. A letter detailing the demands has been sent to Sir John by Public Interest Lawyers which is acting for CND and Peacerights. It has also been copied to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Kate Hudson, Chair of CND, said:
‘The opportunity finally to have a full and comprehensive public inquiry into the war on Iraq must not be jeopardised by government reticence to publicly identify and allocate responsibility and criminal liability. The war and occupation of Iraq have been hugely divisive in British public life and only a full and open investigation can finally lay these issues to rest and help restore public confidence in the morality and judgement of our politicians.’To secure this resolution, we are asking Inquiry Chairman Sir John Chilcot to ensure that the Inquiry includes an investigation of: the legal advice in relation to the decision to go to war; whether or not the public was misled about the reasons for war; the consequences for British troops of the failure to adequately plan; the treatment of prisoners; and the use of indiscriminate weaponry and tactics such as high level airstrikes and cluster bombs.
‘We urge Sir John to ensure that the Inquiry hearings are heard in public. The British public, the families of those who have lost their lives, and those who have been injured in this illegal war, deserve no less.’
CND has a strong record in this area. Prior to the invasion, CND took extensive legal steps to challenge the government’s excuse for attacking Iraq. In December 2002, it took the government to court to ask for an advisory opinion on the legality of using UNSC Resolution 1441 as a pretext for war. This was argued by Rabinder Singh QC and Charlotte Kilroy acting for CND. Three judges ruled that they could not give an opinion as they had no jurisdiction on this aspect of international law and that it may be ‘damaging to the public interest in the field of international relations, national security or defence’.
The same CND legal team also produced an opinion on the Attorney General’s use of Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 to authorise the war, both on the eve of the war and after it became clear that weapons of mass destruction were not being found in Iraq. Consistent government refusal to agree to a Public Inquiry and Jack Straw’s veto of the release of the crucial Cabinet meetings of March 13th and 17th 2003, suggest that the government knew it was breaking international law in attacking Iraq and went ahead anyway.