Blair ‘misled’ public over Iraq invasion

A former Cabinet minister has accused Tony Blair of deliberately misleading his colleagues and the public over a dispute central to the government’s decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Clare Short, former Labour international development secretary, told an information tribunal that Blair and his close advisers misrepresented the French position on the need for a new UN resolution backing war.

“The French made a second [UN] resolution impossible — that was the story. That was clearly, deliberately, misleading the French position,” Short said.

The foreign office is trying to overturn a decision by Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, to disclose records of a conversation between Blair and George Bush about the UN and the French position, days before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Disclosing the evidence was “fantastically important for the people of Britain and the historical record”, Short told the tribunal.

The tribunal heard that Blair claimed that in a television interview on March 10 2003, the French president, Jacques Chirac, said France would veto any new UN resolution backing war. This enabled Blair to argue before his cabinet, parliament and the British public that the UK could go to war with no further UN backing because of French opposition.

Rejecting resolution
The tribunal heard on Thursday that what Chirac actually said was that France would reject a new pro-war resolution at that particular moment since the UN weapons inspectors had not been given enough time to carry out their mission in Iraq.

In a passage ignored by Downing Street, Chirac said: “It will be for the Security Council and it alone will decide the right thing to do. But in that case, of course, regrettably, the war would become inevitable. It isn’t today”.

Short told the tribunal: “It is my view that without the mispresentation of the French position, the position of the prime minister was untenable”.

She appeared for Stephen Plowden, a private individual who made the initial freedom of information request and is demanding disclosure of the entire record of the March 2003 conversation between Blair and Bush.

The information commissioner has described the material he says should be disclosed as a record of a “key conversation between Mr Blair and President Bush with regard to a foreign policy decision of almost unparalleled magnitude”.

James Eadie QC, for the FO, told the tribunal that in law claims that parliament, as opposed to the Cabinet, was misled would be inadmissible as evidence. The hearing under the tribunal judge, Professor John Angel, reserved its ruling. —

Staff Reporter
Guest Author

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Workers’ R60m ‘lost’ in banks scam

An asset manager, VBS Mutual Bank and a Namibian bank have put the retirement funds of 26 000 municipal workers in South Africa at risk

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.