Wilmshurst, who was the only civil servant to quit over the Iraq war, is the first witness to reveal that Goldsmith's view as late as January 2003 was that a second UN resolution may be required for the invasion to be legal. She said she thought it was unprecedented for a prime minister to be consulted in this way.
She told the inquiry panel, which is looking into the legality of the war, that she was shown this advice unofficially at the time. "His draft advice, his provisional view, was that a second resolution was needed, as I recall," she said.
The lawyer, who told her superiors that an invasion without UN sanction would be a "crime of aggression"
when she quit a few days before the invasion, said today that the way ministers handled the legal arguments over the war was "lamentable".
Declassified documents released by the inquiry also show that Wood warned ministers three months before the invasion that it was not certain if military action would be legal.
David Brummell, then a senior aide to the attorney general, also revealed that Lord Goldsmith warned both No 10 and Straw in November 2002 he was "pessimistic" that UN security council resolution 1441 could be used to justify military action without a second resolution.