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Tony Blair At the Leveson Inquiry: No Surprises (Almost)

Tony Blair At the Leveson Inquiry: No Surprises (Almost)
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A documentary filmmaker, David Lawley-Wakelin, broke into the long-running Leveson Inquiry as former Prime Minister Tony Blair was testifying and accused him of being paid by JP Morgan Chase when he sent British troops to support the American forces during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Lawley-Walkin shouted “This man should be arrested for war crimes” and called Blair a “war criminal.” Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson told Blair that he was “sorry for that” and that he did not have to respond to the protester; Blair denied the accusations, commenting that it was his “experience that if you had 1,000 people in an event and somebody got up and shouted something, then itís as if the other 999 neednít have bothered showing up.”

The morning intrusion in the court lasted only about a half a minute of the seven hours set aside for the former Labour leader to testify. As the New York Times commented, the intrusion “seemed also to show how Mr. Blairís deployments of British forces still haunt him five years after he left office.” It also brought into question what sort of security is in place at the courts — as well as, perhaps, with what gravity one is to regard the inquiry — and brought to mind an incident last July, when a protester threw a pie at News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch. The octogenarian media executive had been in the midst of testifying before a Parliamentary select committee regarding the phone hacking scandal that had led to him shuttering the 168-year-old tabloid the News of the World after revelations surfaced that the paper’s staff had hacked into the voicemail of a murdered 13-year-old, Milly Dowler, prior to her body being found.

Blair on Murdoch, the Press and Politicians

Blair’s relationship with Murdoch and with the media was the main focus of the questioning, though it is debatable if his responses will shed any real new light on the the investigation.

Blair defended the efforts of politicians to build relationships with the media and specifically with news media owners and editors. He said he had courted Murdoch’s support before the 1997 general election, flying “half way round the world” to visit him on Hayman Island in Australia to seek the support of his top-selling tabloid The Sun and to reverse what was a hostile relationship between the Labour Party and the press. While acknowledging that it was “absolutely” important to have The Sun‘s support, Blair said that Labour would still have won, even without The Sun‘s support.

Blair insisted that his relationship with Murdoch and also Rebecca Brooks, the former editor of the NoW who resigned from her position as CEO of News International in the midst of the hacking scandal last year, had only become closer after he left office in 2007. Regarding the revelation that Blair was named godfather to one of Murdoch’s children, Grace, when she was baptized on the banks of the River Jordan in a ceremony hosted by Queen Rania of Jordan in 2010, Blair said that

“Despite all this stuff about me being godfather to one of his children. I would not have been godfather to one of his children on the basis of my relationship in office. After I left office I got to know him. Now itís different. Itís not the same.”

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15 comments

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1:53PM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

thanks

8:04PM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

Thank you for article.

11:59AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Blair, Bush, Cheny, Rumsfeld and rest of the war criminals should be on death row awaiting execuion by lethal injection, nuff said.

5:03PM PDT on May 30, 2012

tony blair is a liar

12:03AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Tony Blair is still alive?

11:53PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Blair was probably the weakest British labour PM ever. He even admitted to Leveson he wouldn't fight Murdoch's News Corporation, because it was too powerful. What does that say about the man? That he was not worthy to be Prime Minister. The fact he had numerous meetings with Murdoch and Rebecca Brooks suggests he was at their beck and call, and Murdoch was, as he still is, a rabid and undemocratic reactionary, who supported George W. Bush and his intention to invade Iraq. I have little doubt Murdoch influenced Blair to send troops to Iraq in support of Bush, just as Howard in Australia did so without even consulting Caucus. I think also, it was the behginning of the end for the Labor Party in Britain, and Australia. All major parties began to follow the same neo-liberal economic line, with its dire consequences for the world economy, and any sort of principled political stance in Britain, the US and Austtralia, which became pseudo-democracies whose policies became centred on pretence, greed and expediency.

11:10AM PDT on May 29, 2012

The protester just said what most of us were thinking; Blair is a war criminal and should be tried.

Blair is so smug and arrogant, he has no idea of just how much he is hated in the UK. I don't know how he sleeps at night, causing the deaths of so many just so he could make money.

8:11AM PDT on May 29, 2012

Tony Blair is what we call in England a liar. Nuff sed.

4:26AM PDT on May 29, 2012

Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch were more than just passing acquaintances when Blair was elected to be the British Prime Minister -- they were scratching each other's backs from the start of Blair's political career because they could each mutually benefit from having a close relationship.
(Blair gets good media coverage, Murdoch expands his business
empire with government help.).

The unmitigated audacity of that shameless pathological liar Tony Blair.

3:56AM PDT on May 29, 2012

Thanks you for the article Kristina. I've be following the Levenson Inquiry at bbc.com.

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