LONDON — One of Tony Blair’s most senior public servants launched a scathing attack Monday on the former prime minister over the Iraq war, accusing him of “sycophancy” towards Washington.
The former top prosecutor Ken Macdonald issued the attack after Blair admitted on the weekend that the country would have backed the Iraq war even if he knew it did not have weapons of mass destruction.
Blair, who controversially backed then US president George W. Bush in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said he would “still have thought it right to remove” Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein because of the threat he posed to the region.
Blair’s comments to the BBC sparked outrage Sunday and calls for his prosecution for war crimes, while one commentator said it was a “game-changing admission” for Britain’s ongoing official inquiry into the war.
Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, writing in The Times newspaper, accused Blair and using “alarming subterfuge” to mislead the British people into the conflict.
“This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions and playing footsie on Sunday morning television does nothing to repair the damage.”
Macdonald said the US seat of power “turned his head and he couldn’t resist the stage or the glamour that it gave him.”
“It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge with his partner George Bush and went on to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want, and on a basis that it’s increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible.”
Macdonald, who works at the same law chambers as Blair’s wife, challenged the head of the inquiry into the war “to reveal the truth without fear.”
Blair is due to give evidence to the inquiry, led by former civil servant John Chilcot, early next year.
Blair justified the war on the basis of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and its non-compliance with UN weapons inspections, in defiance of numerous UN resolutions.
The alleged chemical and biological weapons were never found, but Blair said he would have gone to war even if he had known they were not there.
“I would still have thought it right to remove him (Saddam Hussein). Obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat,” he said.