Jack Straw’s Biggest Lie 94

I was a British Ambassador at the time of the events covered by the Iraq Inquiry. I know many of the witnesses and a great deal of the background. I can therefore see right through the smooth presentation. Jack Straw was the smoothest of all – but he told lie after lie.

Straw’s biggest and most important lie goes right to the heart of the question of whether the war was legal. Did UN Security Council Resolution 1441 provide a legal basis for the invasion, or would a second resolution specifically authorising military action have been required? The UK certainly put a massive amount of diplomatic effort into obtaining a second resolution.

Here is Straw’s argument that the invasion was legal without a second resolution:

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Then you make a point very strongly in your statement and this has been confirmed by Sir Jeremy Greenstock that you did not believe that

military action thereafter, in the event of noncompliance, would depend on a second resolution. It would be desirable but it wasn’t dependent on that. We are not, today, going into the legal arguments on that. Sir Jeremy’s basic contention was that he had got the Americans and British into a comparable position as before Desert Fox in December 1998. So I think that’s

quite important, that your understanding, at least of the position, was that it wasn’t absolutely essential to have a second resolution.

RT HON JACK STRAW: I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it. We tabled a draft, which, as I set out in this memorandum, and which Sir Jeremy Greenstock confirms in his memorandum, was aimed to be selfcontained, in the sense that, if very important conditions were met through failures by the Saddam regime, that of itself would provide sufficient authority for military action, and no doubt the next time we will get into the wording of the resolution, which, as I say in this memorandum, I can virtually recite in my sleep, but there are reasons why in OP12 we use the language that we do, and serious consequences are mentioned in OP13 and so on. For sure, we wanted a second resolution after that and well, again, I set out

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We will come on to that in a moment.


As Ambassador in an Islamic country, I was copied all or nearly all of the telegrams of instruction on the diplomatic efforts to secure a second resolution. I can tell you these facts as an eye-witness.

Straw argues that the proof that no second resolution was needed is that

I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it.

But they did not table it because we gave assurances to the French and Germans (and Russians and Chinese) that our draft of UNSCR 1441 did not authorise military action. The instructions were to inform those governments that UNSCR 1441 contained “no automatic trigger” which would lead to military action. I remember the phrase precisely “no automatic trigger”. Rod Lyne on the committee must remember it too, because he was one of the people, as Ambassador in Moscow, instructed to give that message.

It is the most perverse of lies by Straw to argue that the fact that the Germans and French did not table their draft proved that 1441 authorised war, when we had told them not to table their draft because 1441 did not authorise war.

I read with enormous care and in real time every single word of the scores of telegrams on the effort to secure the second resolution. Not one word gave any hint at all that a second resolution might not be necessary to authorise war. There was absolutely no mention in telegrams to Embassies of the notion that UNSCR 1441 was a sufficient basis for war, and no second resolution needed, until many weeks after 1441 was passed, just before the invasion.


In response to New Labour hacks questioning my word, I can offer you irrefutable evidence to back up my own evidence that all the FCO material at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 1441 and for weeks afterwards right up until March, took the view that UNSCR 1441 did not provide legal grounds for the invasion.

It is the resignation letter of Deputy FCO Legal Adviser Elizabeth Wilmshurst in which she stated:

“I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it.

My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN security council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.) “


All FCO instructions in the period to which I refer would have had to be in line with the view expressed by FCO legal advisers at that time. That view was precisely as I have stated it above.

This part of Straw’s evidence is therefore a huge lie.

There were numerous other minor lies from Straw. It is completely untrue that we had persuaded the three African security council members to support a second resolution authorising war. Baroness’ Amos mission to Francophone states we had ignored for years was a miserable failure. That was clear from reporting telegrams from posts.

It’s a small point, but Straw’s lie that upset me most personally was:

I don’t in the least mind people disagreeing with me, indeed I encourage it, but I do ask them to be loyal, because, otherwise, you can’t operate any kind of governmental system.

I disagreed with Straw, over the issue of the use of torture to gain intelligence in the “War on Terror”. I was very loyal. I kep my disagreement entirely internal and argued it in top secret telegrams and internal policy meetings. As a result of my disagreeing, Straw attempted to have me framed on false charges, destroying my health in the process and leaking false accusations to the tabloids to ruin my reputation too. When my name was finally cleared, they had to give me six year’s salary to settle.

I defy anyone to read Murder in Samarkand and say Straw is not a liar.

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94 thoughts on “Jack Straw’s Biggest Lie

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  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Just a couple of press releases (few days old) but relevant here:

    – from the office of Dr Bill Wilson MSP

    Dr Bill Wilson, an SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, today announced that he had written to the Lord Advocate, the Rt Hon Elish Angiolini QC, asking her to investigate the conclusions of a Dutch commission of inquiry into the invasion of Iraq with a view to the potential prosecution of Tony Blair for waging a war of aggression. His letter cited Lord Advocate’s Reference No.1 of 2000 (30th March 2001) to make the point that “a rule of customary international law is a rule of Scots law”.

    Dr Wilson said, “I have also lodged a motion making the same point and highlighting the carnage associated with the Iraqi misadventure. Data gathered by Opinion Research Business in 2007 suggested a million or so Iraqi civilians had died as a result of it.

    “Now the independent Dutch committee, investigating the issue at the request of Dutch ministers, has said that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 ‘cannot reasonably be interpreted as authorising individual member states to use military force to compel Iraq to comply with the Security Council’s resolutions, without authorization from the Security Council’. This is another way of saying that the invasion was illegal.

    “Those responsible for misleading the public and initiating such bloodshed should be brought to book. I look forward to seeing the detention and trial of Tony Blair, and I urge the Lord Advocate to look into the matter.”

    Short Title: The Illegality of the Invasion of Iraq and the Detention of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair

    S3M-05525 Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament welcomes the finding of an independent Dutch commission that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 “cannot reasonably be interpreted as authorising individual member states to use military force to compel Iraq to comply with the Security Council’s resolutions, without authorization from the Security Council”; notes that data gathered by Opinion Research Business indicated that, in September 2007, approximately one million Iraqi citizens had died as a result of the invasion of that country; further notes that, according to media reports, Hans Blix considers that the invasion was illegal and believes that the former UK Prime Minister and former US President misled the public; acknowledges that, according to the High Court of Justiciary in Lord Advocate’s Reference No.1 of 2000, “a rule of customary international law is a rule of Scots law” and considers that, this being the case, the appropriate Scottish law enforcement agencies have the power to investigate the conclusions of the Dutch commission and the role of the former UK Prime Minister, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, in waging a war of aggression, and looks forward to his detention and indictment.

    (Must take another trip Amsterdam – I can’t remember the last one?) But good-on-yer Bill.

  • glenn

    onrery person: Blair wasn’t the only religious nutter involved here, and this gets back to CM’s blog yesterday:


    Dubbya had headings on his daily briefings, reassuring the miserable, deluded giggling killer that he was doing God’s own work, eg:

    – Soldiers praying, readying for battle, “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:15)”

    – Next to a picture of a US tank, “Open the gates that the righteous nations may enter, The nation that keeps faith. Isaiah 26.2”

    – A picture of two soldiers praying, and “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us. Here I am Lord, send me! Isaiah 6:8”

    – A picture of a US tank at sunset, and “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Epheisians 6:13”

    Dubbya claimed that he and Blair prayed with each other. This was before the invasion, and Blair was “on a mission” by that point. Did all this stuff really not come up? Was Blair under the illusion this invasion was all in the name of “Gaaad”?

  • Ruth

    Hardly, Blair waas carrying out orders and will be protected financially and phsically by those who instructed him

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Yeh well here’s my message to godly Blair – from the boys and gals that never came back from Iraq who now observe and wryly smile at the circular time-line as it burrows it’s inevitable path through the cosmos:

    “You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

    Sneak home and pray you’ll never know

    The hell where youth and laughter go.”

    ?” Siegfried Sassoon

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    “We tabled a draft, which, as I set out in this memorandum, and which Sir Jeremy Greenstock confirms in his memorandum, was aimed to be selfcontained, in the sense that, if very important conditions were met through failures by the Saddam regime, that of itself would provide sufficient authority for military action.”

    Shame there’s no Walter Wolfgang on the commitee to shout “Nonsense!” at this arrogant hypocritic.

  • tony_opmoc

    Where we live is very traditional English and we celebrate various old pagan English festivals

    We have an old traditional harvest festival where after collecting all the proceeds of the summer – our food gift from God – The Sun, and we store the food for the winter and have enough straw feed for the animals…

    We collect the surplus Straw and we construct a Strawman. He is so big and well constructed, that a real strong man gets inside him and The Straw Man Dances and We Bang Our Old Traditional English Drums and We Play Our Old Traditional Musical Instruments and We Sing Our Old Traditional Songs

    And We Spend All Day Travelling Round All The Local Pubs In Our Village in Traditional Old English Costumes

    And During The Wenching and Gluttonous Feasting of The Best Meat and Fruit Of Of Our Beautiful Country England

    We Celebrate Our Harvest

    By Doing It

    No – We Really Do

    We Burn The Straw Jack

    Its a bit like the Film The Wicker Man

    But they didn’t quite get it right

    They had Edward Woodward Inside


  • Sam


    You must put yourself in front of the inquiry. I trust the Official Secrets Act cannot apply when public interest and the reputation of our nation is at stake.

    I too remember the new word “automaticity” – isn’t it funny how this has been (conveniently) forgotten in almost all debate on the war and the current inquiry?

    Anyway, bravo. Thank goodness there are still a few decent, honest people like yourself. I would love to see Peter Goldsmith rot in a gaol for the rest of his miserable life too…

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Simply stated:-

    ” I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it.”

    – The artful dodge!

  • Courtenay Barnett


    No – “He also said that legality was an immaterial point – because once Goldsmith said it was legal, that was that.”

    The illegaity and war of aggression are the real issues. Simply read Article 2 of the UN Charter, and there are significant cases on point.

    War criminals without a doubt!

  • tony_opmoc

    I think I may have deleted all the evidence.

    You see, it was a very long day, and there were all sorts of things going on at the time

    I thought I had copied all the contents of my camera memory cards to the computer…

    But I just kept the camera going during the wenching bits and I didn’t tell her, in the pub when she too was drunk she told me her most intimate thoughts and feelings and she is a shy innocent Irish Girl – nearly 40 years old but she was just too honest

    She shouldn’t have been saying the most intimate things about her life to me, whilst I was recording everything she said on camera

    It simply was not right

    So I think I deleted the entire thing – of the whole day

    So you are O.K. Jack Straw

    You got off the hook

    It never happenned

    You didn’t do it and we didn’t burn you at the stake

    However We will be having another Harvest Festival This Year


  • George Laird

    Dear Eddie

    I feel I must take you to task on the issue regarding the 9th word on my website, while it is true that the 9th word written by me is s**t, it actually appears as the 18th word from the top of the page.

    You have forgotten to count the words in the header.

    As to your opinion that my website is s**t, thank you, feedback is always welcome.

    IP address, Houses of Parliament, someone popped in for 16 hrs 37 minutes and 59 seconds.

    For information on the human rights abusers at Glasgow University, then please read my website posts on the subject, that would be most appropriate.

    Finally, with regard to answering a simple question, that would depend on the question. What is simple for someone maybe hard for someone else, education and life experiences play a key role in the ability to respond to questioning.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • technicolour

    And as Old Labour goes down, kicking and screaming against the reality of its new masters, and while everyone else is engaged in the sad spectacle, a pleasant little post sneaks over unnoticed from Stormfront:

    “The UN is their ultimate stage.The place where their deception and duplicity,their inducements and threats come into their own.Manipulations,bribes and murders are run in tandem with the promotional work for war conducted at the UN in NY.

    It was ever thus.The League was designed by those who saw war as central to their plans for a final Pax Judaica.”

    Yeah! Take that, Topol! We see through your hollow attempts to entertain and enchant the masses. “Topol’s Treasury of Jewish Humor, Wit and Wisdom”, indeed. “Topol’s Treasury of HOW JEWS ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER AND DESTROY THE WORLD”, more like it.

    Ah, it was ever thus.

  • technicolour

    Nope, according to someone he used to babysit for, he was OK when he was a teenager. According to one of his former aides, he was even OK as an MP for a while, before he started surrounding himself with people who only told him what he wanted to hear. It is, admittedly, pretty awful watching what Jack Straw’s become, but I think it’s a process (and a warning to everyone in politics).

  • Mike

    Iraq first had to miss its final opportunity to comply. That’s what was meant by no automatic trigger. There wasn’t a war straight away – that happened six months later.

  • hawley_jr

    Crime and the consequences of crime:

    “Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds

  • Mrs Straw

    Anyone remember that creepy way Jack Straw used to act when he was hanging round Condi Rice, all tongues, blushes and teenage smirks?

    He even started wearing contact lens during that period, and took La Rice for a date in his constituency.

    He was demoted after that.

    Poor Jack. Never a Bill. Always second violin.

  • writerman

    It’s a real challenge, trying to bring the powerful men who rule us to account, and eventually justice for their actions.

    It appears that equality before the law has been another casualty of the invasion of Irag and the war on terror. This isn’t just an esoteric, or academic, discussion. If Blair and his co-conspirators can get away free and easy after launching a war of agression, arguably one of the worst international crimes, then we are in really bad place in relation to how our democracy functions, because equality before the law is one of the bedrocks of democracy.

    The war on terror has shredded so many of our hard one democratic rights. It’s amazing really. Who would have thought that the right not to be subject to torture and murder, without even a trial would disappear so quickly? Then there’s habeus corpus, another foundation of modern democracy, a fundamental right we’ve had, more or less, for a thousand years; now it’s gone. The US president can put men in prison for ever, and not only can he choose not to give them a fair trial, he can deny them the right to even know what they are charged with, making a defence virtually impossible.

  • technicolour

    Writerman, have you written a book or anything? I’d like to read one, so please do, if you haven’t.

  • Ruth

    And here in the UK the first trial is taking place without a jury. So the defendants will sadly have to rely on the integrity of the judge. And if the case involves state crime they don’t have a chance.

  • Andrew Withers LPUK


    As a Libertarian I have suspicion of Government ingrained in my DNA, and any functionary of the State once he opens his mouth.

    The very fact that you found yourself used and abused by your political masters only enhances your pronouncements, not the fact you were an ambassador at the time. I recently had cause to contact the Ambassador to France who had been placed in an embarrassing position, by the amateur flim flam men that pass for a government

    at present.

    The nu labour hacks remind me of the unedifying hacks who surrounded Maxwell, all of who slunk away when he was revealed as a world class criminal.

    Lets get down to brass tacks, Chilcott is a show trial of the worse kind. It has been set up to give the pretence of accountability.

    If Chilcott was red in tooth and claw, Blair,Brown,Straw et al would be standing in peril of losing their Liberty, not Straw offering cough sweets to the chairman. Campbell showed his utter contempt for Chilcott.

    It is just a ‘spectacle’ to serve the needs of political elite. We know they are lying, they know we know they are lying. However without sanction, this is an utterly pointless PR exercise.

  • writerman

    I do write for a living, and have done for a long time. But I’m not all that keen on stepping forward, as I kind of like to keep a safe distance between my work and political stuff like this. We live in stange times. Currently I’m writing a new novel, tentatively entitled “Secrets of the Sand” or maybe just “Sand.” I kind of like “Sand” better, because it can be seen as a metaphore as well. It’s about the undead and Afghanistan, and the war on terror. Hopefully it should ruffle a few feathers. Though my agent, dear thing, thinks it’s a Bad idea.

  • johnf


    Juan Cole, the distinguished American Middle Eastern scholar, comments on this thread:

    “…Craig Murray, then a UK ambassador to a Muslim-majority country who was copied with diplomatic positions from London, confirms that the initial position of the Blair government was that previous UNSC resolutions did not provide an automatic trigger for war. The British inquiry into the Iraq War, which sheds loads of illumination on the Bushies’ lies and crimes, is being studiously ignored by US mass media.

    There was no UNSC authorization, and no issue of self-defense. The most egregious violation of the post- World War II international order by a major Power we have yet seen. I said all this in my first blog posting here at Informed Comment in April of 2002.

    You kind of hope it means Bush, Cheney, Rice, Hadley and the Neocons can never safely vacation in Europe again..”


  • Richard Robinson

    “You kind of hope it means Bush, Cheney, Rice, Hadley and the Neocons can never safely vacation in Europe again.”

    I wonder what Straw thinks now of that business with Pinochet a few years back ?

    “Nobody expects the Spanish Extradition !”

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