Iraq cabinet minutes remain secret

February 25, 2009

So we’re not going to know the full details of what the cabinet thought about going to war in Iraq.

Justice Minister Jack Straw has blocked the release of cabinet minutes on the subject on the grounds that to open them up would undermine democratic decision-making. If ministers thought everything they said in cabinet was going to be made public, his argument ran, they might be reluctant to express their full and frank views and therefore the principle of collective cabinet responsibility would be undermined.

The Information Tribunal had ordered the disclosure of the minutes of two key cabinet meetings, on 13 and 17 March 2003, when the legality of the invasion was being discussed. Anti-war groups have always suspected that the cabinet failed to discuss properly or challenge the decision to invade Iraq.

Iraq was a war entered into without any need for self defence and without any united international front against aggression, opponents of the conflict say. The legality of going to war was a crucial point and suspicions have persisted ever since 2003 that the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith was “leaned on” by Tony Blair to declare the invasion legal even without a second United Nations resolution.

Do you believe Jack Straw has a point about the need for confidentiality here?

12 comments

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I do not believe that Jack Straw has a point about the need for confidentiality here; it encourages me to think that there is something to hide. His reasons for blocking the Minutes are pathetic, (undermine democratic decision-making). Still, it’s not all bad, the public can make some democratic decision-making at the polling booths.

Posted by Ruth | Report as abusive

As a general principle, I agree with Ruth – let the sunlight in and hold the rascals to account. In this limited case, however, the actual conflict is continuing and I think a case can be made for secrecy. Its just a pity that the case itself is secret and we cannot hold him to account for the quality of it. Perhaps the full case for secrecy should be made public after the end of the conflict at the same time as the minutes themselves?

Posted by A L Miller | Report as abusive

th hiding somethingere definitel

what are they hiding?I wouldn`t trust that lot with yesterdays newspaper!

Posted by syd | Report as abusive

Straw is as corrupt and complicit in the murder of all the innocents in the illegal Iraq war. He and his corrupt colleagues can hide their guilt and lies for so long. The truth like the non existing WMD will out soon. The cabinet responsible should be up for the war crime they are responsible for. People have died for their cowardice and failure to stand up. Robin Cooke did just that, now he was a man of honour, not like the shameful cowards Straw & Co we have running the country!

Posted by Lloyd | Report as abusive

As is said by supporters of CCTV, why are you worried if you have nothing to hide? It is only too obvious that the Government do have material they want hidden.

Posted by John Tanner | Report as abusive

It is obvious to everyone that they have something to hide. We must demand that these people are held accountable for the decisions that they took.

Posted by mike corcoran | Report as abusive

We’ve all known that we were hoodwinked for several years now, but as a nation we still voted the government back into power at the last election. So we’ve got the government we deserve. I think Jack Straw is right, mainly because I am bored with this story. In fact, “fed up to the back teeth with it” would be a more apt description.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

I can see no reason why this information should remain confidential. Going to WAR is no matter for spin and lies. I strongly believe that once TB had taken the decision to go to WAR the facts and public sentiment became irrelevant.

This information not only should be released it must be released so that the then cabinet ministers and PM can be held accountable for their decisions (perfect world!).

TB may believe that he only answers to GOD but unfortunately for him he was an elected PM and must answer to the British public. Only with this information can we really see how the decision process actually mirrored the spin and rhetoric coming from the front bench and No.10 Downing street.

Contrary to Jack Straws statement withholding this information is the only way to harm the democratic process and only fuels the speculation that the public were seriously misled.

Posted by Saul W | Report as abusive

The Straw Man is simply confirming what we aleady knew – that Iraq was no threat to the UK or its allies and the war was therefore illegal.

His argument against disclosure is simply an example of the nauseating way in which the Socialists use “the public interest” argument to hide the fact that they are constantly undermining the real interests of the British people.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive

Blair/Brown/Straw/Goldsmith and the rest of the cabinet should be hauled up under oath to disclose how they came to the conclusion that we had to go to war with the Americans.

The Truth will out and the people of this country will be very underforgiving.

Ken H

Posted by Kenneth Hind | Report as abusive

Labour just lost the forthcoming general election

Posted by independent observer | Report as abusive