Lord Prescott: Invasion of Iraq was illegal

Posted On: 
10th July 2016

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott has said he now believes the US-led invasion of Iraq was illegal.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott expressed his remorse over the Iraq war.

The Labour peer praised Jeremy Corbyn for apologising for the war on behalf of the Labour party, while offering his own "fullest apology" to the families of the military personnel who died.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Lord Prescott called Sir John Chilcot's recent report a "damning indictment" of the Blair government's decision to join the invasion in 2003.

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He also described as "devastating" the revelation of Tony Blair's "I will be with you whatever" message to President Bush, sent nine months before the decision to take military action.

In the wake of the Iraq Inquiry report earlier this week, Mr Blair apologised for intelligence failures and inadequate post-conflict planning, but refused to say sorry for the decision to invade.

Sir John reached several damaging conclusions, including that the decision to go to war had been taken before peaceful options had been exhausted.

Lord Prescott, who served with Mr Blair throughout his time at 10 Downing St, said Cabinet had been kept in the dark about the justifications for war.

The legal advice from Attorney General Lord Goldsmith was given only verbally, rather than in document form, he said.

"We now learn from Chilcot that even the intelligence agencies warned of the inadequacies or reliability of such intelligence sources," he writes.

"But these concerns were never referred to in any of the intelligence documents given to the Cabinet.

"A similar example was the failure to provide the Cabinet with the reasoning of the Attorney General’s judgment that it was legal to act militarily against Iraq."

He said unlike Mr Blair he had now come to the conclusion that the war was illegal. 

"I will live with the decision of going to war and its catastrophic consequences for the rest of my life.

"In 2004, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that as regime change was the prime aim of the Iraq War, it was illegal.

"With great sadness and anger, I now believe him to be right."