The Chilcot Inquiry will today hear evidence from three legal advisers to the government about issues relating to the legality of the Iraq war: Sir Michael Wood, legal adviser to the FCO; David Brummell, legal secretary to the law officers; and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser to the FCO

Whilst it’s unlikely that the UK Supreme Court will ever get the opportunity to consider the war’s legality, former members of the senior judiciary have recently offered strong views on this subject. Former Law Lord, Lord Steyn, has said that “in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal”. And in November Lord Bingham, the former Lord Chief Justice and Senior Law Lord, stated that, without the blessing of the UN, the Iraq war was “a serious violation of international law and the rule of law”.

The recent 551-page report of a Dutch Inquiry, the Davids Commission, has found that war in Iraq had “no basis in international law”, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade.

The report concludes that “Despite the existence of certain ambiguities, the wording of [UN] Resolution 1441 cannot reasonably be interpreted (as the Government did) as authorising individual Member States to use military force to compel Iraq to comply with the Security Council’s resolutions without authorisation from the Security Council.” (An English translation of the report’s main conclusions can be found here).

The Report also disclosed that the UK Government failed to hand over a document requested by the Commission. The document – allegedly a letter from Tony Blair asking for the support of the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende – was handed over in a breach of diplomatic protocol and on the basis that it was for Balkenende’s eyes only, according to an inquiry official.

The Times described the report as a “devastating rejection of the position of the Dutch Government”, and, understandably, Dutch media sources have concentrated on the possible effects of the Commission’s findings on the stability of the Government; here and here. But Radio Netherlands Worldwide also considers whether there will be far reaching effects on the Chilcot Inquiry, including a radio interview with Prof Phillipe Sands QC, who gave evidence to the Commission.