Lawyer was paid £50,000 to give advice on Iraq invasion

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A private sector lawyer who gave legal advice to the Government on the invasion of Iraq has received more than £50,000 of public money for his opinion.

A private sector lawyer who gave legal advice to the Government on the invasion of Iraq has received more than £50,000 of public money for his opinion.

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, turned to Professor Christopher Greenwood QC, a supporter of military intervention for humanitarian purposes, in the run-up to the war in Iraq two years ago.

Professor Greenwood's opinion contradicted much of the advice Lord Goldsmith was receiving from the Foreign Office, where there were doubts about justifying military action on the basis of UN resolution 1441. He is understood to have argued that the two original resolutions passed against Saddam Hussein after the Kuwait war of 1990 provided a basis for action, an assessment that critics said was a minority legal view.

The payment was disclosed in a written Lords reply last night by Lord Goldsmith, who stressed Professor Greenwood, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was not asked to assess the legality of invasion.

But Sir Menzies Campbell, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "Even by the lucrative standards of the Bar, this suggests more than a passing involvement in the giving of advice to the Attorney General. Once again it raises the extent to which the Attorney General's advice was his own.

"Professor Greenwood's sincerely held view was that military action was legal - the amount he received suggests the Attorney General relied to a very considerable extent on him."

In his written reply, Lord Goldsmith said Professor Greenwood was first "instructed" on 13 March, 2003, which was four days before the Attorney General summarised his own views on the legality of the action. The professor had been instructed on "a number of occasions by government departments in relation to a variety of different legal issues relating to the conflict and its aftermath", he said.

Professor Greenwood is currently acting for the Ministry of Defence in an Appeal Court case concerning civilian deaths in Iraq, Lord Goldsmith added.

"The best information that can be obtained is that, as at 21 March 2005 [yesterday], his professional fees in relation to work connected with the conflict in Iraq amounted to approximately £46,000 (excluding VAT)," Lord Goldsmith added.

During the same period, Professor Greenwood had been paid approximately £53,000 (excluding VAT) for other Government work, unrelated to the Iraq conflict. That included work for the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, and the Cabinet Office.