'Strip Tony Blair of his knighthood': Declassified documents show former PM 'misled parliament'

Tony Blair

Declassified documents have been released from 1998

GB News Reporter

By GB News Reporter

Published: 14/12/2023

- 11:31

Declassified documents from 1998 show Sir Tony was determined to take military action, contrary to legal advice.

Sir Tony Blair should be stripped of his knighthood as a result of his decision to take the UK to war in Iraq, MPs have heard.

The Alba Party’s Neale Hanvey described the former prime minister’s accolade as “an insult to every single life lost” during the war.

Mr Hanvey claimed declassified documents from 1998 show Sir Tony was determined to take military action, contrary to legal advice.

Speaking during a debate on UK military action in Iraq, Mr Hanvey said: “How can it be that a prime minister who prosecuted two wars against lawful advice and instruction has been rewarded with a knighthood?

“This is an insult to every single life lost and it should be withdrawn forthwith and a path to full justice secured.

“Governments should not lie to go to war and the truth must now be told.”

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The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath accused the former Labour leader of misleading Parliament and said the consequences were “devastating for Iraqis”.

He said: “These declassified documents show Tony Blair was determined to take military action against Saddam Hussein in 1998 against explicit advice and in the absence of sound legal arguments or justification.

“These documents show Tony Blair dismissed legal objections to his 1998 bombing campaign, this was a direct precursor to his stance over the invasion of Iraq five years later in 2003 which also was deemed illegal by (then) UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.”

He added: “In both instances in 1998 and in 2003 we know Tony Blair received legal advice warning that military action was illegal and in both instances he ignored that legal advice and went on to authorise the deployment of British service personnel.

“Blair pressed officials, in particular the attorney general, to provide legal justification for the use of force. He received none, but he did it anyway.

“Blair misled Parliament by claiming that a legal basis for military force, without a UN Security Council resolution existed, when in fact it did not.

“The consequences have been devastating for Iraqis, for the region and for military personnel and their families. Lives lost in the theatre of war are well understood, but the lives wrecked by the trauma of conflict are less easily quantified and yet every bit as real.”

Alba Party MP Kenny MacAskill (East Lothian) said: “The consequences of the Iraq war… live with us and reverberate with us to this day.

“We were taken into war on a false prospectus, we were taken in on deceit and indeed on lies. And it’s important that that should be brought to account.”

Shadow solicitor general Karl Turner said he was in favour of “maximum transparency wherever that is possible”, saying he had “no knowledge of how those decisions were arrived at” but urged “caution” before “we leap to any conclusions” about information that has not yet been published.

He encouraged the Government to provide its reasons for not releasing certain documents, adding: “Not because I think there is any great mystery being covered up, but precisely because I think the opposite is true and the Government could dispel a lot of unnecessary and ill-founded speculation if it was clear about the broad reasons why some material is withheld.

“If that is one positive outcome that can emerge from this debate I would welcome it.

“Another would be to recognise that what motivated much of the action we saw during this period in history was not the desire for regime change in Baghdad but a compulsion that many leaders rightly felt not to repeat the grave mistakes of Bosnia and Rwanda.”

Solicitor General Robert Courts said: “These are historic matters. They have been … subject to exhaustive and detailed examination in other places. (Mr Hanvey) will of course know that.”

He added: “These were matters for many administrations ago and not one that this Government can comment on.”

He told Mr Hanvey he was not able to comment in the debate on why specific documents were not available, but said he was happy to communicate further with him about the issue, saying it was for the Cabinet Office to take a view on whether documents should be disclosed.

In 2016, following the Chilcot inquiry, which examined the UK’s involvement in Iraq from 2001 to 2009, Sir Tony said: “I did not mislead this country. I made the decision in good faith and I believe it is better we took that decision. I acknowledge the mistakes and accept responsibility for them.

“What I cannot and will not do is say we took the wrong decision … As this report makes clear, there were no lies, there was no deceit.”

Sir Tony’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

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