John Major puts Blair on the spot over Iraq

blairwarcriminalFormer Tory prime minister John Major insists his New Labour successor Tony Blair’s notes to president Bush should be released without being edited

Tony Blair was yesterday put on the spot over the Iraq inquiry by the man he defeated in 1997.

Former Tory Prime Minister John Major said Mr Blair should demand the release of all his secret notes to former US President George Bush in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

And he insisted Mr Blair alone had the power to make them public.

Sir John said censoring the papers meant suspicions about the Iraq War would “fester.” His intervention came after Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the invasion was branded a “whitewash” because it will only publish the “gist” of 25 notes and 130 taped talks between Mr Blair Mr Bush .

He slammed the Cabinet Office for withholding the documents, telling the BBC: “Firstly, it will leave suspicions unresolved and those suspicions will fester and maybe worsen. Secondly, withholding them is going to be very embarrassing for Tony Blair, not least because he brought in the Freedom of Information Act.”

He said rules keeping the papers secret could only be overturned if the former administration led by Mr Blair agreed. “I suppose it could approach them and say ‘we think it better if they release the papers,’ but the Government can’t do that, Mr Blair could.”

The release of the documents has delayed publication of the report which finished its public hearings in 2011.

At first the Government tried to block all papers between Blair and Bush amid fears it would upset the US and break a rule that Ministerial papers can only be published after 30 years.

After months of wrangling, the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said the inquiry can release extracts of Blair and Bush’s correspondence. Mr Bush’s views will not be revealed.

The move sparked fury, with Labour MP John McDonnell saying it confirmed “suspicions of a whitewash.”

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon, 19, was killed in Iraq, said: “How will the families get to know the truth? We are just shoved aside. I think Tony Blair has a lot to do with the decision. He is laughing at us”. Tony Blair’s office refused to comment.

Source: The Mirror