Brown keeps silent on Iraq ruling


THE government held its tongue on Wednesday over the order to release the 2003 Iraq war Cabinet minutes.

But peace campaigners insisted that warmongering new Labour ministers should be “brought to account” for their decisions and that the minutes should be put in the public domain immediately.

The Cabinet Office is considering whether to appeal to the High Court after the Information Tribunal ordered the release of the documents on Tuesday.

Stop the War Coalition national convener Lindsey German hoped the ruling meant ministers could be made to face justice for the assault on Iraq.

“Every single argument produced for the invasion of Iraq has been shown to be false,” she said.

“Six years later, with over a million dead and Iraq in ruins, we will read what happened at the heart of government. We will finally find out who knew what and on what basis the decision was made to support George W Bush in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“It will then be appropriate to demand that the former prime minister, the present one and present and former members of the British Cabinet be brought to account.”

Cabinet papers are not normally released until after 30 years. But the Information Tribunal said that the minutes from March 13 and 17 2003, when ministers considered whether the invasion was legal, were an “exceptional case.”

It upheld a ruling by Information Commissioner Richard Thomas that the minutes should be published under the Freedom of Information Act.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: “Well done the Information Commissioner in defying the 30-year rule. I hope the government does not appeal against it.

“These documents will help show that the assertion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was accepted or never put to the Cabinet.

“There needs to be a full judicial inquiry into the Iraq war.”

In its ruling, the tribunal stated: “We have decided that the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the formal minutes of two Cabinet meetings at which ministers decided to commit forces to military action in Iraq did not outweigh the public interest in disclosure.”

CND chairwoman Kate Hudson said that the decision of the Information Tribunal was good news for everyone who supported the rule of law.

“The disgrace of the attorney general ‘changing his mind’ on whether the war could be justified must be exposed in all its detail,” she said.

“We strongly hope the Brown government will not appeal any further against the release of the minutes in a fruitless attempt to save the already tattered reputation of Tony Blair.

“Contrary to what the judges ruled in 2002, it was clearly in the public interest for the matter to be raised then and it remains so today.”

Ms Hudson added: “The illegality of the war on Iraq and the crimes committed there cannot be swept under the carpet. Six years does not erase the guilt of those responsible for breaking international law and bringing about the deaths of countless thousands of innocent civilians.

“This will be a running sore, not only in British politics but in international relations, until the truth comes out and those guilty are put on trial in an international tribunal.”

The Cabinet Office now has 28 days to decide whether to appeal to the High Court against the ruling. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesman said: “We are considering our response.”