by RAY FLEMING
NEW ground was broken by yesterday's decision by Britain's Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, that the minutes of Cabinet meetings at which ministers discussed the legality of invading Iraq should be published. While noting the principle that minutes of Cabinet meetings are not published, Mr Thomas said that special considerations applied to those relating to the Iraq war. The Government will almost certainly appeal against this decision to the Information Tribunal and, if necessary, to the High Court. Gordon Brown must be furious that he continues to have to sweep up the mess left by Tony Blair in all sorts of areas. The issue of publishing the Cabinet papers on Iraq would never have arisen if Mr Blair had held full scale Cabinet discussions at which everyone could have expressed his or her views, or if there had not been obvious sleight of hand over two differing opinions expressed by the Attorney General. As it is, the public knows enough to believe that the war may not have been legal. In the future Mr Brown's pledge to take the decision to go to war to the House of Commons may avoid the difficulty he now faces. But if he wants to maintain the principle of non-publication of Cabinet papers -- a principle for which a good case can be made -- he could do so by agreeing to the full scale inquiry into the causes and effects of the Iraq war which many now want. This would permit revelation of the Attorney General's opinions without creating a precedent for access to Cabinet minutes.