Goldsmith stands by legal advice on war

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The Attorney General admitted yesterday that his legal advice on the Iraq war was based on the assumption that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to world peace.

Lord Goldsmith insisted he agreed with Tony Blair that the weapons existed and would be found "in the future". But he appeared to concede that his advice was based on the existence of an actual threat from Saddam Hussein. If no such weapons are found, the Government's legal case will be destroyed, critics claim.

"I have no concerns about anything on which I based the advice that I gave," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One. "By resolution 1441, the [UN] Security Council, unanimously basing itself on the threat to international peace and security, said Iraq must comply unconditionally and it has a final opportunity. That is the key factor." The advice has not been published but Mr Blair has paraphrased parts to claim the war was in accordance with international law.

Mr Blair said yesterday that neither he nor Alastair Campbell, his communications chief, would give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee's inquiry into claims that Downing Street ordered intelligence reports on Iraq be "sexed up".