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The Lib Dems have outlined a three-point charge sheet against Jack Straw

February 7, 2010 11:19 PM
By Charles West

Lib Dems claim:

• Knowingly misled parliament on the legality of the war. On 17 March, a day before MPs voted to authorise British involvement in the war, Straw told them: "There is no question about the legality of the action that we propose to take." The inquiry has heard that the two most senior Foreign Office legal advisers, Sir Michael Wood and his deputy, Elizabeth Wilmhurst, believed the war was illegal.

• Breached the ministerial code by preventing the cabinet from seeing Goldsmith's full legal advice. At paragraph 2.12 the code says: "When advice from the law officers is included in correspondence between ministers, or in papers for the cabinet or ministerial committees, the conclusions may if necessary be summarised but, if this is done, the complete text of the advice should be attached."

• Abused his powers and failed to declare a conflict of interest when he vetoed a freedom of information request to release the minutes of the cabinet discussion about Iraq on 17 March 2003. The Lib Dems believe Straw gave a misleading account when, as justice secretary, he vetoed the FoI request last year. He described the cabinet as "the forum in which debates on the issues of greatest significance and complexity are conducted".

Ed Davey, the Lib Dems' foreign affairs spokesman, said: "Jack Straw has tried to hoodwink the cabinet, parliament and then the British people in his cover-up."