One of Britain's most authoritative judicial figures last night delivered a blistering attack on the invasion of Iraq, describing it as a serious violation of international law, and accusing Britain and the US of acting like a "world vigilante".
Lord Bingham, in his first major speech since retiring as the senior law lord, rejected the then attorney general's defence of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed.
Contradicting head-on Lord Goldsmith's advice that the invasion was lawful, Bingham stated: "It was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had." Adding his weight to the body of international legal opinion opposed to the invasion, Bingham said that to argue, as the British government had done, that Britain and the US could unilaterally decide that Iraq had broken UN resolutions "passes belief".
The "violation of international law" that Lord Bingham describes is the commission of aggressive war: the most serious war crime of all.
Lord Bingham said:
"For the effect of acting unilaterally was to undermine the foundation on which the post-1945 consensus had been constructed: the prohibition of force (save in self-defence, or perhaps, to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe) unless formally authorised by the nations of the world empowered to make collective decisions in the security council..."
All of the deaths, especially the civilian ones, the detentions, the torture, are all blood on our hands.
Weep my friends for the conduct of our country, and redouble your commitment to bringing a swift and humane end to this outrage, and to bringing justice to the makers of this mark of Cain on the United States.