Blair was warned by 27 lawyers 'Iraq invasion without UN backing was illegal'

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London, Jan 27(ANI): Senior British Government lawyers have revealed that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was warned two months before the invasion of Iraq that it would be illegal to go to war without UN backing.

The lawyers told the Chilcot Inquiry into the war that they advised the action had "no legal basis in international law".

It is reported that every one of the 27 lawyers in the department advised the war was illegal.

Sir Michael Wood, who was the Foreign Office's chief legal adviser, told the hearing that he had warned the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that an invasion would "amount to the crime of aggression".

"He (Straw) took the view that I was being very dogmatic and that international law was pretty vague and that he wasn't used to people taking such a firm position," Express quoted Wood, as having told the inquiry.

Wood further said that he considered resigning in protest at the decision to join the US-led attack, and described how he was sidelined after he made clear his objections to military action.

The revelation comes after Blair's chief of staff Jonathan Powell admitted that Britain went to war with Iraq on the "assumption" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Powell had told the inquiry that advisers were confident about Saddam having WMDs, as he had used them in the past.

"We were wrong. Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. We had an assumption that because Saddam Hussein had used WMDs, he had lied about getting rid of WMDs," Powell had said.

"We had bombed Iraq in 1998 on that basis and it would have taken some quite strong evidence to ­suggest he had got rid of them," he added.

When asked by a panel member whether he had been concerned that intelligence on Saddam's weaponry might not be up-to-date, Powell said: "We didn't really have any doubts about it and I don't think other people had any doubts about it. We were confident he had weapons of mass destruction."

He also admitted that he could not provide any evidence to support Blair's pivotal claim in a dossier of 2002 that Saddam had a "growing" WMD programme.

The explosive revelations will increase the pressure on Blair when he appears before the Chilcot inquiry panel on Friday. (ANI)

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