Monday, 21 March 2011

Open Letter to Dominic Grieve, Attorney General, regarding David Cameron's misleading of the House of Commons

This post consists largely of the text of an email sent earlier this morning to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, asking him to re-consider his advice about the military intervention in Libya, in part to avoid David Cameron again misleading the House of Commons in the debate scheduled to take place this afternoon.

It will be interesting to see if Dominic Grieve chooses to "tough it out" and allow his fellow Ministers to again mislead the House of Commons.

There is certainly the potential for Dominic Grieve and David Cameron to have a much tougher ride in March 2011 than Peter Goldsmith and Tony Blair did in March 2003, following Blair's misleading the House of Commons regarding the supposed legality of the Iraq War.

The text of the email follows. Since it was a forwarded email it additionally incorporated the text of the Open Letter of yesterday's date, Open Letter to David Cameron and Dominic Grieve re Illegality of UK military intervention in Libya.


Mr. Grieve,

I write to ask you to re-consider, as a matter of urgency, your legal advice regarding military intervention in Libya to prevent further misleading of the House of Commons by David Cameron (and/or other UK Government Ministers).

I believe David Cameron misled the House of Commons on Friday 18th March 2011 and it seems that his misleading the House of Commons was based on legal advice attributed to you.

Mr. Cameron said, "The Attorney-General has been consulted and the Government are satisfied that there is a clear and unequivocal legal basis for the deployment of UK forces and military assets.". (Quote is from HoC Hansard here: )

In saying that I consider that David Cameron seriously misled the House of Commons.

The legal position in favour of military action is neither "clear" nor "unequivocal".

In fact it is highly suspect. There are serious questions to be answered about the legality in UK Law of the military action in Libya initiated by David Cameron. Some of those questions I expressed in my email of yesterday's date addressed to yourself and Mr. Cameron, among others.

I also consider that it is likely that Mr. Cameron (and/or other Government Ministers) may again mislead the House of Commons today, concealing from the House serious questions about the legality of UK military intervention in Libya.

I therefore wish you to consider, as a matter of urgency, whether your supposed advice that UK military intervention is lawful is, in fact, correct given consideration of matters in UK Law such as those I raised with you in my email of yesterday's date.

It seems to me that the Government must, if it is to maintain any facade of integrity, inform the House of Commons as a first step in today's debate of the questions that exist regarding your legal advice.

Should the Government fail to do so, then there is a prima facie case that the Government is premeditatedly deceiving the House of Commons. Not only that, it would (assuming my analysis is correct) be concealing from the House of Commons serious criminal offences by David Cameron and other Government ministers.

Further, it seems to me that your advice to the Government, given its seemingly defective nature, is a matter which ought to cause you to consider your position. That, of course, is primarily a matter for you in the first instance.

Given my serious concerns on this matter, I am copying this email to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Select Committee, Kevin Barron.

There are a number of further visible copy recipients of this email who are likely to have an interest in the subject matter of this email and the email of yesterday's date.

In addition there is a significant number of recipients of blind copies. I wish it to be clear, and a matter potentially of public record, that any misleading of the House of Commons later today by Mr. Cameron or other Government Ministers is calculated and premeditated.

For the avoidance of doubt, this email is an "open letter". Recipients of copies, visible or blind, may freely copy it to others who may have an interest in this matter.

Tony Blair was able in March 2003, on the basis of defective of advice from his Attorney General of the time, to mislead the House of Commons about the supposed legality of the Iraq war without being called to account for his deceit.

Mr. Cameron is in a less comfortable position, since his misleading of the House of Commons on 18th March 2011 has been identified more quickly and its possible repetition today puts him in a uniquely uncomfortable position as a British Prime Minister, I would suggest.

Thank you.

(Dr) Andrew Watt

List of visible copy recipients

David Cameron MP
Kevin McGinty, Attorney General's Office
Edward Garnier MP
Nick Clegg MP
Jessica Lee MP

John Bercow MP
Kevin Barron MP

HM Treasury Ministers
Department of Justice Ministers
Ministry of Defence Ministers

Stop the War Coalition

Alan Rusbridger
Richard Norton-Taylor
Afua Hirsch


  1. In your link Hague says
    "Obviously, what we are hoping for and looking for is a genuine ceasefire—that is what the whole world wants to see."
    That is the last thing Cameron or Hague wants because that would mean partition, not regime change.

  2. Has any response been received, from any recipient?