Sir Roderic adds some grit to Goldsmith’s massage

Sir Roderic Lyne has never forgiven the Blair regime for making a prat of him in 2003. Then the ambassador in Moscow, Rodders quite innocently gave a broadcast live on Russian telly explaining why Saddam Hussein could incinerate every Muscovite within ten minutes. Now he is exacting a cold revenge.

As Lord Goldsmith squirmed before the Chilcot panel today, he seemed oddly surprised to be ambushed by Sir Roderic Lyne. Referring to Goldsmith’s sudden Damascus conversion to the legality of unprovoked aggression, Lyne asked his witness:
“How do you respond to the (Guardian) report of the time that inside Number Ten on 17th March you were pinned to the wall in a pincer movement by those keen on a change of mind?”
“Absolute and utter nonsense” said the former Attorney General.
Right” said Sir Roderic, in perhaps the best rendition of ‘don’t make me laugh’ I’ve heard in a long time.
Lyne’s low-grade nastiness virus is clearly infectious. Lawry Freedman (until today the nice cop of Chilcot) wasn’t having any of Goldman’s bizarre explanation about the mid-March change of mind on invasion legality. As a historian, he is I think adept at spotting when the plot is being spoiled by false motives.
“Well,” he asked, “What had changed during the month to make you change your mind?”
“Well,” Goldsmith echoed,”Er, that is….I decided that I’d been too cautious beforehand. And that, well, the MoD and the military wanted a straight answer.”
“And that made you change your mind?” Freedman wondered, his poker face unchanged.
This was great stuff.

There is of course no moral explanation whatsoever in the Attorney saying he was asked for a straight answer: he could very easily (and with no loss of life) have said “OK, it’d be illegal”. Funny then that his opinion turned out to be the one that everyone inside Number Ten wanted.

But having tried to lump the blame onto gung-ho Brigadiers and Sir Humphreys, Goldsmith seemed to ask for the Inquiry’s understanding about “my meetings with various Americans” during the period under the microscope. I must confess to feeling by this point that his Lordship was not so much in a moral maze as an amoral swamp.

Unfortunately (and this was quite clearly his mission) Lord Goldilocks has left the way clear for Blair to deny all this coming Friday. I have the feeling that those who balloted for tickets may yet find it a damp squib.

5 thoughts on “Sir Roderic adds some grit to Goldsmith’s massage

  1. If I were Sir Roderick I would want to recall Lord Goldsmith and ask: 1) When he had concluded that the war would be legal IFF (if and only if) Mr Blair were to determine (personally) that Saddam was in 'material breach', why did he not advise Mr Blair that said 'determination' should be recorded in writing? 2) What did he then recoil in horror when it was put to him (By Sir Roderick, I think it was) that he should have advised Mr Blair to put said determination in writing? 3) Lord Goldsmith then made an emotional statement of his massive sense of responsibility to the armed forces and to senior civil servants required to prosecute the war. He felt obliged to harden up his views so as to reassure them that they had legal protection against prosecution for murder etc.. Why did he not make it clear that his conclusion on legality was *conditional* on Mr Blair's personal 'determination of material breach'? 4) Why, in giving his reassurances to these people to whom he felt a duty of care, did he not feel it necessary to have the written 'determination' from Mr Blair in his possession before making an *unconditional* declaration of legality to parliament? And, should a senior member of the Armed Forces appear before the tribunal, I would wish to ask them if they appreciated at the time that the 'guarantee' of legality that had been given by Lord Goldsmith was conditional upon a personal and very specific 'determination' by Mr Blair that, as far as we know, has never been recorded in writing. Finally, and more generally, I would invite Lord Goldsmith to guide me once again through his changes in judgement over the 40 days and nights encompassing his American trip. I would like to understand the evidence and interpretations he discovered in moving from a view of 'a reasonable case can be made', passing through through the amazing declaration (paraphrasing here) that when the going gets tough for a lawyer one decides (quoting accurately here, I hope): 'What one wants the result to be' (!), to his position of certainty. As best I could follow his logic through this process, which still seemed to be suffering from jet lag, the flow seemed to be: 1) Over there I met all these amazing people who really knew what they are doing (unlike whom?), 2) They had been given a 'red line' by Mr Bush for the UN negotiations: the USA must not require a further decision from the UN to enable war to commence, 3) It's inconceivable that all these wonderful people can have ended up with a UN decision what had crossed Mr Bush's 'red line', there just so many of them and they were so good, 4) So it must be the case that a further UN decision is not required, and that the 'further discussions' demanded by 1441 have no bearing on the process, 4) So, as these wonderful Americans can't have made a mistake on the ‘red line’ and must have a faultless interpretation of UN procedures and legalities, and must be motivated by a full and unconditional respect for international law, the war must be legal. I'd really like to hear Lord Goldsmith taken through that thought process again – microscopically!

  2. We see no reason why this wide-ranging enquiry should not investigate alternative motives for the invasion.We include a probe of the following:1. The increased wealth of the Bush and Saudi Royal families resulting from the enormous increase in the world oil price as a result of the regional instability engendered by the invasion. We commend Michael Moore's film 'Fahrenheit 911' as background to the links between these 2 families.2. The increased wealth of the Blair family directly attributable to Mr Blair's unconditional support of the USA/Bush stance.

  3. Essexgirls….stay tuned on the Saudi connection, in relation to the Brown method of succeeding to the Labour leadership. What, we must ask ourselves, did Gordo have on Moral Tone of such humungous sleaze that it would make even Teflon Man blush if/when revealed?BaE interventions etc spring to mind (See posting re Robin Cook's death)

  4. Update: It seems I was wrong above: Friday's performance by Mr Blair revealed that he had issued a written 'determination' of Saddam's non-compliance, as advised by Lord Goldsmith. It would make an interesting read; it should contain a complete 'audit trail' of the UK knowledge and intelligence at that time.

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