It's not unusual to hear high-profile speakers condemning the Blair-Bush legacy of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But not many speakers could get away with calling the former prime minister a "liar" in front of an audience including the attorney general, Baroness Scotland, and his own brother the high court judge Bill Blair, and still draw nothing but their praise. Desmond Tutu, though, is their idol, and he can say what he likes. Speaking for Advocates for International Development -- an organisation that engages lawyers and law firms in pro bono development work -- the archbishop drew on his experience being represented by lawyers who, in his words, risked everything to play their part in the struggle against apartheid. But much of Tutu's speech, delivered on Tuesday night to a packed-out and lawyer-laden audience at St Paul's cathedral, focused on attacking the fundamental premises of key political decision makers. "I tried to stop the invasion of Iraq," Tutu told the astonished crowd, revealing that he had attempted to phone George Bush to persuade him to think again before sending troops in. Tutu was, he said, told that the president was not available but secretary of state Condoleeza Rice called him back. "Condi Rice asked me what I wanted to say to the president," he said. "I asked, could they give the weapons inspectors more time? She said no." "Now we know that evidence was a fabrication," Tutu went on. "I think Bush and the former prime minister need to say to the people of Iraq 'sorry'. And to the world, they need to say 'sorry. We lied to you'." Current political attitudes to poverty in the developing world received similar treatment from the archbishop. "How in the name of everything that is good are we able today to spend obscene amounts on budgets of death and destruction, when we know a minute proportion would ensure that children everywhere would have clean water to drink, a decent education, and affordable healthcare?" Tutu asked. On free markets, the verdict was similarly damning. "They tell the developing world we are going to have to increase our agriculture. But if we try to sell it here, we can't because of trade barriers," he said. "Free enterprise? It's a joke." Tutu's message was directed at the industrialised nations, but his pleas against suffering within Africa -- Zimbabwe, Somalia, Darfur -- held a veiled criticism closer to home too. A coalition of South African NGOs recently accused their own government of siding with "tyrants and persecutors" by withholding cooperation, along with the rest of the African Union, from the International Criminal Court's efforts to arrest the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Obama's presence in Africa this week has breathed new life into the vision of what can be achieved when Africa and the industrialised nations world genuinely work together towards development goals (although where the ICC is concerned, ambivalence is something Africa and America are likely to also continue having in common). But Tuesday was about what professionals in prosperous firms in prosperous countries can do. As the attorney general -- who has launched a pro bono initiative of her own -- insists, contributing to the public good is becoming a mainstream ethos, and expectation even, in legal practice. Controversies remain about the model of highly profitable law firms making money from contentious commercial deals, then allowing their lawyers to do development work to "give something back". But more important, the archbishop said, was the prevailing "family ethic". "My humanity is caught up in your humanity," he said. "In a healthy family you do not get out what you contribute. Each according to his ability, to each according to his need." This, Tutu said, was what inspired lawyers to help the struggle against apartheid, and he is convinced that their involvement now will help contribute towards those elusive millennium development goals.