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UK ordered to reveal secret Iraq papers

  • Story Highlights
  • British Cabinet has been fighting for 2 years to keep Iraq papers secret
  • Decision reopens debate over whether Iraq invasion was considered legal
  • Verdict covers two meetings held just days before the conflict began
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The British government was Tuesday ordered to divulge notes from key meetings in which it committed to the 2003 Iraq conflict, reopening controversy over whether the invasion was legal.

"This is an exceptional case," the UK's Information Tribunal wrote in its verdict, declaring that the public interest in learning how the government made its decision outweighed the need to keep government discussions confidential.

The Cabinet has been fighting for nearly two years to keep the notes secret. It has 28 days to appeal the decision.

The decision covers only the official minutes of the meetings on March 13 and March 17, 2003, days before the invasion of Iraq began on the night of March 19.

The notes will be edited "to avoid unnecessary risk to the UK's international relations," the tribunal ruled.

The agency rejected a separate request for the release of informal notes taken by participants at the meetings.

At the March 17 meeting, Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith laid out his opinion that there was legal justification for the invasion, according to the ruling. He presented his views to Britain's Parliament later the same day, which made them available to the public.

The verdict is a response to a Freedom of Information request brought by Christopher Lamb in April 2007.

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