British foreign office legal adviser resigns

The resignation spree over Blair's Iraq policy continued with a senior legal adviser quitting over legality of the Govt's decision to go to war.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2003 15:16 IST

The resignation spree over Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq policy continued in Britain with a senior legal adviser at the foreign office quitting over the legality of the government's decision to go to war.

The foreign office's deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmhurst, "was understood to be unhappy with the government's official line that it has sufficient basis for war against Iraq under (existing) UN resolutions," the Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday.

A foreign office spokesman also said "a legal advisor has decided to leave over the last few days" but refused to disclose the reason, the paper said.

Wilmhurst, 54, had been a legal adviser for 30 years and deputy legal adviser since 1997. Her resignation will be an "embarrassment" to premier Tony Blair as well as foreign secretary Jack Straw and raises new doubts about the legal basis for the war, the Guardian said.

"It will encourage anti-war MPs to renew pressure on attorney general Lord Goldsmith to publish in full his legal advice to government," the paper said.

Earlier junior health minister Lord Hunt, home office minister John Denham, the leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook and two ministerial aides resigned over Blair's Iraq policy.

First Published: Mar 22, 2003 15:14 IST