Goldsmith to stand down next week

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, has announced he will step down with Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, next week. He is the latest of a number of ministers who are closely associated with Tony Blair to signal their departure ahead of Gordon Brown's move into No 10.

The Attorney General has been involved in a series of controversies, most notably over how and why his legal advice to the Government on the Iraq invasion was changed. It emerged in 2005 that he had expressed private concerns to Mr Blair about the legality of war. Documents that emerged following requests under freedom of information laws show that he told officials he had changed his mind 'after further reflection'.

Lord Goldsmith, the Government's chief legal adviser, has insisted that he came under no political pressure to change his view. But the discrepancy between his initial advice and later, public view would be a main focus of any future inquiry into the case for war.

There was further controversy over Lord Goldsmith's refusal to step aside from any decisions over possible prosecutions in the cash-for-honours affair, despite his close relationship with some of the key players. His decision to stand down means he will play no role in deciding whether to prosecute members of Tony Blair's inner circle over the affair.

There was also embarrassment for Lord Goldsmith in February after he was forced to confess to an affair with Kim Hollis, the first Asian woman QC.

I quit, says Attorney General Lord Goldsmith (, 24 June 2007)