Media mogul Rupert Murdoch allegedly telephoned then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair on March 11, 2003 — eight days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq — and urged him not to do anything that could delay the start of the conflict.
The allegation appears in the diaries of Blair’s former communications director, Alastair Campbell, excerpts of which have been appearing in The Guardian.
As summarized by the Associated Press, Blair told Campbell that he “felt the Murdoch call was odd, not very clever.” Both men suspected that the call “was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy.”
Blair recently admitted in testimony before Britain’s media ethics inquiry that Murdoch had phoned him three times during the run-up to the war. Murdoch himself claimed during the inquiry that he’d “never asked a prime minister for anything.”
According to the latest revelations, however, Murdoch wanted to let Blair know that his News International would support Britain if it backed the U.S. war. “Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got,” Campbell wrote.
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