Debevoise & Plimpton will be short of a European head of litigation today.
Why? Because today is the day that former UK Attorney-General Lord Peter Goldsmith QC is quizzed by the Chilcott inquiry about the legality of the 2003 war in Iraq.
Goldsmith was well into his six-hour grilling as we typed. Earlier this morning Goldsmith, referring to the murkiness of international law, admitted that, “you can’t throw up your hands and say I don’t know what this means - you have to reach a decision”.
That said, the Foreign Office’s former top legal adviser Sir Michael Wood (now at 20 Essex St) told the inquiry yesterday that, “international law was pretty vague”.
Presumably that’s why Goldsmith appears to have felt able to change his mind about the war’s legality under immense pressure from the Government.
Yesterday, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a former Foreign Office lawyer who resigned in protest over the invasion, called the legal run-up to the invasion “lamentable” and slammed the fact that Goldsmith had been asked for his legal opinion less than a fortnight before the war began.
On Monday we reported how Goldsmith - in his day job - is focused on building up Debevoise’s European disputes capabilities into a one-stop shop (see story).
Maybe they should ask Wilmshurst for her opinion on whether he’s the right man for the job?