Release date 28.11.2002

Lawyers for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) will go to the High Court just after 12 noon on Thursday 28 November in London, in a bid to stop the Government going to war against Iraq.

The case, a judicial review, will focus on whether or not the Government will be acting illegally if war is declared or force used against Iraq without the Security Council (SC) passing a fresh resolution clearly authorising the use of force. The case will proceed against Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon. It will be argued by Rabinder Singh QC and Charlotte Kilroy of Matrix, and Michael Fordham of Blackstone Chambers. This is the first time ever that a government has been challenged by a group or individual over a declaration of war. Already it has attracted attention from around the world and is set to make legal history.

The lawyers will ask for an urgent hearing to take place by December 6 to stop the UK Government declaring war or using force after December 8. That is the date for Iraq to comply with the requirement to list all the sites and programmes relevant to weapons of mass destruction. In the past few days, both the UK and US Governments have made it clear that if they consider there to be a ‘material breach’ of that requirement they may decide that the ‘serious consequences’ as a warning to Iraq will be interpreted unilaterally by them as being an authorisation of force.

Carol Naughton, chair of CND has said:

‘If was on Iraq is unleashed, 500,000 could die. We face the real possibility of a first use of a nuclear weapon, which could be British, American or Israeli. We are acting on behalf of all the citizens of the world who want to stop war on Iraq.’

Phil Shiner, solicitor for CND has said:

There is no doubt that international law does not permit the use of force based on SC Resolution 1441 and the UK will be acting illegally if it uses force without a fresh SC Resolution clearly authorising force. If the UK acts unilaterally in this matter it will seriously undermine the democratic structure of the SC and the rule of law. My clients call on the government, even at this late stage, to give an undertaking that they will not act illegally and thus avoid the expense of going to court.’

Mark Thomas has said:

‘The government are frightened by this case. They are frightened of being exposed as acting illegally and frightened of being exposed as having bullied and intimidated members of the Security Council and the international community.’

There will be a press call at 12.00 noon at the steps to the entrance to the courts. Joining members of CND staff will be:
Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour)
Neil Gerrard MP (Labour)
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru)
Annabelle Ewings (SNP)

Phil Shiner will make a brief statement, giving extracts from the letter sent by the Treasury Solicitor’s Office on behalf of the government in response to CND’s legal challenge.