The shocking decision to award a knighthood to the disgraced Tony Blair looks shoddier by the day

Terina Hine

As if more evidence were needed for Tony Blair to be sent to The Hague, former Defence Secretary at the time of the Iraq War, Geoff Hoon has revealed that he was told to burn a secret memo that suggested going to war against Iraq could be illegal.

The shocking decision to award a knighthood to the disgraced Tony Blair looks shoddier by the day.

The claims are part of Hoon’s memoir See How they Run, which was published in November last year. In it he reiterates accusations which first emerged in 2015, and were rubbished by Blair at the time as “nonsense”. But Hoon is sticking to his story and says he distinctly remembers the instructions from former No.10 Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell to burn the top secret memo which challenged the legality of going to war with Iraq.

Hoon states, the memo “was for my eyes only and that I should not discuss its contents with anyone else. I had no idea who else had received a copy. I read the opinion several times; it was not an easy read … when my Principal Private Secretary, Peter Watkins, called Jonathan Powell in Downing St and asked what he should now do with the document, he was told in no uncertain terms that he should ‘burn it’.” Jonathan Powell has denied the claim.

Orders to burn the memo were apparently ignored by Hoon and his civil servants, who locked it away in an MoD safe instead. Hoon claims the document could very well still be there.

Hoon’s book supplies further evidence against Blair, placing him in good stead as a key witness if ever a warcrimes trial were to occur. Although Hoon’s revelations do not add much to what many campaigners suspected at the time, or what the Chilcot Inquiry later revealed, that they come from one of Blair’s most trusted allies of the time is significant.

Hoon alleges he was rebuked by a furious PM after informing the Americans that UK troops would be unable to join the invasion if MPs voted against the war. He also confirms that the dodgy dossier, with its exaggerated claims that Saddam Hussein had WMDs which could attack UK bases within 45 minutes, came directly from the No. 10 press office.

Hoon says at the time he believed the 45 minute warning in the draft dossier referred to the time it would take to deploy and fire chemical weapons and not the time in which UK bases could be attacked. Hoon claims he only later discovered the warning came from the Downing Street press office in “a very different context.”

News of Blair’s knighthood has been met with shock – even The Daily Mail – hardly known for its anti-war credentials – is unimpressed with the latest attempt to rehabilitate Blair.

Over 700,000 people have signed a petition to have the honour removed. Opinion polls reveal that only 3% of the public strongly support the award, while 63% oppose the decision. Mother’s of soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have written to the Queen begging her to rescind the knighthood. Others who have lost loved ones have expressed their horror and anger to the media – one father described hearing of the knighthood announcement as the “cruellest blow”.

Millions have died, countries have been devastated, countless lives have ruined as a result of Blair’s wars, but Blair remains unrepentant. Even after the Chilcot Inquiry he announced that he would do exactly the same again. Blair deliberately lied to the public, lied to parliament and was willing to support war on Iraq whatever the evidence. Yet he is still to be knighted by the Queen as a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter -the highest honour the establishment can bestow.

On June 13 Blair, with blood on his hands and a velvet robe draped over his shoulders, replete with glistening insignia and a plumed hat, will walk alongside the Queen, members of the royal family and other Knights of the Garter, to St. George’s Chapel as part of the grand ceremony. Join us there and let the world know there is only one court that Blair should be attending, and it’s not the royal one.

05 Jan 2022 by Terina Hine

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