Tony Blair

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service from the day after the date of the general election held on 1 May 1997 until he tendered his resignation to Her Majesty the Queen on 27 June 2007. He was thereafter appointed to the office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham. This is a sinecure appointment which is used as a device allowing a Member of the United Kingdom Parliament (MP) to resign his or her seat in the House of Commons. On this same day he was officially confirmed as Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia, otherwise known as the “quartet”.

Questions for Tony Blair

Here are some of the questions (under a number of general headings) that we believe the Inquiry should ask Tony Blair. If a question appears as a link, it will take you to an explanation of the question or some information about its context.

We would welcome any further suggested questions, particularly if they come with an explanation of why they are relevant. If you would like suggest questions that go some way to refining the ones we already have here or raise different issues, please use the comment box at the bottom of the page. (Or otherwise feel free to contact us directly if you prefer to remain anonymous.)

Committing the country to war

a) Commitments given to the US

When, and with whom, did you make any agreement to consider formally committing UK forces towards any prospective invasion of Iraq?

What precise assurances about Iraq did you give to President Bush at your April 2002 meeting in Texas?

Did you inform any other member of the Bush administration that Britain would take part in any US-led invasion of Iraq?

If so, who was this, and when did this take place?

Is it correct that Sir David Manning told Condoleezza Rice on 12 March 2002, with your authority, that “you would not budge in your support for regime change?”

In light of the above, how did you subsequently consider yourself to be bound by this commitment?

b) Taking the decision within government

When did you first personally decide that British armed forces would indeed take part in the US-led invasion of Iraq?

When did you first inform any Cabinet minister of this decision?

When did you first inform the Cabinet as a whole of this decision?

In subsequent  Cabinet discussions, did you ever present your aim(s) as lying being between Iraqi disarmament or regime change?

Was the matter of upholding the UN Iraq disarmament resolutions the only reason for committing UK forces against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq?

When did you first authorise the informing (formally or otherwise) of any official governmental department that Britain would be taking part in the then-planned US-led invasion of Iraq?

c) The timing of the outcome of the decision to invade Iraq over alleged material breaches of its disarmament obligations

Why was it necessary to begin the Invasion of Iraq in March 2003 whilst UNMOVIC was that month actively overseeing the destruction of proscribed Iraqi weaponry (and whilst it was known that it would get cooler again in the Middle-East that following autumn)?

The legality of the war

When did you first seek advice about the legality of taking military action to enforce the authority of United Nations resolutions regarding Iraq?

Who did you seek this advise from?

How was this advice received?

What other legal advice did you receive?

Were you ever aware of the contrary advice from Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former FCO Deputy Legal Adviser who resigned from her post in 2003?

If so, what consideration did you give to her advice?

What were the circumstances of Lord Goldsmith’s refinement of his 7 March advice into his 17 March advice?

Did you consider (at the time) that the attorney general’s advice of 7 March 2003 was equivocal or unequivocal in its assessment of the legality of the intended invasion?

What was the outcome of any assessment of this advice?

What was your understanding of the legal position regarding the invasion of Iraq following your receipt of Lord Goldsmith’s 7 March advice?

Did you assess (at the time) that the attorney general’s advice of 17 March 2003 was equivocal or unequivocal in its assessment of the legality of the intended invasion?

What was the outcome of any assessment of this advice?

What was your understanding of the legal position regarding the invasion of Iraq following your receipt of Lord Goldsmith’s 17 March advice?

Had this understanding materially changed in any way since receipt and assessment of his 7 March advice?

Public statements about Iraq’s WMD

On 3 April 2002, you told NBC news “We know that he [Saddam Hussein] has stockpiles of major amounts of chemical and biological weapons.”

How do you justify this statement?

What information did you possess at that time to be certain of the accuracy of this statement?

On 30 May 2003, you stated in comments made after talks with Polish Premier Leszek Miller in Warsaw that “There is no doubt about the chemical programme, the biological programme, indeed the nuclear weapons programme. All that is well documented by the United Nations.”

Which UN documentation were you referring to when you expressed this doubt?

Were you referring to then-current UNMOVIC reports?

What was your understanding of then-current UNMOVIC reports?

Were you asserting that Iraq retained operational programmes in these areas?

Did you have certain information that Iraq retained WMD capabilities?

If so, what was this information?

Intelligence reports about Iraq’s WMD

Did you ever receive or learn otherwise of any intelligence material which contradicted any of the claims made in the 24 September 2002 dossier on Iraq’s WMD?

If so, what was that material and when did you receive or learn of it?

Were you aware that intelligence reports were being compiled with source material coming from Iraqi defectors seeking asylum in the West and from other Western-sponsored anti-Saddam Hussein opposition parties?

Were you aware of any concern within either the JIC or DIS that there was concern about the language relating to the confidence of the intelligence in terms of the certainty of the claims that were used in the September 2002 dossier?

The reconstruction of Iraq

What consideration was given prior to the invasion of Iraq to the necessity for reconstruction efforts to take place immediately after combat operations had ceased?

What was the outcome of these considerations?

What input did representatives of the UK Government have in the overall planning of reconstruction efforts in Iraq?

What financial commitments were given in order to help fund this reconstruction of Iraq?

What was your assessment of the decisions made to remove former-Baath party influence from governmental institutions in Iraq and to disband the Iraqi army?

Back to main ‘Witnesses’ page

8 comments to this article

  1. Stan Rosenthal

    on October 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm -

    Given that the Inquiry is about learning the lessons of how the Iraq war has been handled by all concerned, I propose that the following questions should be put to Tony Blair:

    Do you think that unsubstantiated allegations about your part in the war gave comfort to the Iraqi insurgency and helped to recruit terrorists in this country? Should the media have taken account of these considerations in their treatment of these allegations?

  2. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 6:46 am -

    Suggested further questions to Tony Blair
    Committing the country to war:
    a) Commitments to the US
    – There was considerable opposition to war against Iraq in the United States, not only in public opinion and Congress, but within the Bush administration itself and its defence and foreign policy establishment. You had considerable authority as an opinion former in the US. Did you ever consider using that authority to support the American opposition to the war, either in public or private?
    – Did you consider alternative uses of British forces in support of the American invasion of Iraq, by relieving Americans of commitments elsewhere, for example reinforcing British forces in Afghanistan, or relieving American garrisons in Europe or Korea? Why did you regard it as essential for British forces to take part in the invasion and occupation?

  3. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 6:54 am -

    Further questions to Tony Blair
    Committing the country to war
    b) Taking the decision within government
    – did you at any time after 1997 receive any military advice that the containment of Saddam Hussein was failing and that a pre-emptive war against him was a necessity
    c)The timing of the outcome of the decision to invade Iraq
    – Did you consider that it would be dangerous to this country or any other to allow the weapons inspectors a further two or three months to work in Iraq? (You never argued this in your speech to the House of Commons on 18 March 2003).

  4. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 7:14 am -

    Further questions to Tony Blair
    The legality of the war
    – why was the Attorney General’s advice of 7 March withheld from the full Cabinet (contrary to normal government practice)?
    – why was the Attorney General’s full advice of 17 March withheld from the full Cabinet?
    – what evidence did you offer to the Attorney General that Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMD in breach of UN resolutions, and was he aware of its sources and their reliability?
    – given that war (in international law)must always be a last resort for any state, what evidence or argument did you offer the Attorney General to suggest that there was no alternative to going to war in March 2003?

  5. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 7:22 am -

    Suggested further question to Tony Blair
    Public statements about Iraq’s WMD

    – the government’s declared policy in September 2002 was to compel Saddam Hussein to accept the return of UN weapons inspectors. That policy had almost universal support and understanding in the country. Why then was it necessary to issue the September 2002 dossier? The clear purpose of that dossier was to explain the need for actual military action against Saddam Hussein. Was it assumed that the weapons inspectors would fail?

  6. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 7:40 am -

    Further question to Tony Blair
    Intelligence reports about Iraq’s WMD.

    – According to Ron Suskind, in his book THE WAY OF THE WORLD, you made an eleventh-hour attempt to persuade the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein was NOT in possession of WMD. Do you deny Mr Suskind’s account of events?
    – Whatever the quality of intelligence reports, there was abundant evidence in 2002-03 that Iraq was a ramshackle state, with barely functioning public services. Did it not seem improbable to you that such a state, still subject to severe sanctions, would have been able to develop a significant sophisticated weapons capability?
    – In September 2002 Britain and the United States bombed targets freely all over Iraq. Did Saddam’s response then suggest the possession of WMD?
    – did any intelligence reports support the suggestion that Saddam had established a working alliance with Al-Qaeda and intended to supply them with WMD?
    – after the war, did anyone in the intelligence community incur any penalty for faulty judgments of Iraq’s WMD capabilities, or receive any reward for correct judgments?

  7. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 7:46 am -

    Further questions to Tony Blair
    The reconstruction of Iraq
    – did you seek or receive any advice from the Attorney General on the UK’s legal obligations as an occupying power in Iraq, particularly as regards the protection of life and property? What did you do to secure performance of these obligations? What discussion of these obligations did you hold with the Bush administration before the war?

  8. Richard Heller

    on November 2, 2009 at 8:01 am -

    Further questions to Tony Blair
    Other topics

    – in your Commons speech of 18 March and elsewhere, did you correctly state the French position on the use of force against Saddam Hussein?
    – that speech implied that but for the French it would have been possible to secure a second UN resolution in support of the use of force. Did that reflect a correct understanding of the views of Russia and China and other members of the Security Council?
    – did you consider alternative means of ending the perceived threat from Saddam Hussein, such as covert action, fomenting internal rebellion, intensifying sanctions or even engagement?
    – do you consider that the United Kingdom gained any advantage from participation in the Iraq war and occupation?