‘THIS man is a war criminal,’ a protester shouted at former prime minister Blair at the Leveson Inquiry in the courtroom of the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday.
The protester, later named as David Lawley Wakelin, entered from behind a curtain almost directly behind Leveson himself.
He shouted: ‘Excuse me, this man should be arrested for war crimes. JP Morgan paid him off for the Iraq war three months after we invaded Iraq, then held up the Iraq bank for £20m. He was then paid $6 million every year and still is by JP Morgan, six months after he left office. The man is a war criminal.’
Security guards then dragged the man away through the same door from which he entered. Leveson then said: ‘I’m sorry for that, Mr Blair. I’d like to find out how this gentlemen managed to access the court through what is supposed to be a secure corridor, and I’ll have an investigation undertaken about that immediately. I apologise.’
Blair responded by claiming: ‘That’s fine. Can I just say, actually, on the record, what he said about Iraq and JP Morgan is completely and totally untrue. I’ve never had a conversation with them about that.’
Earlier, asked whether he had got too close to News International, Blair replied: ‘Yes’. But he described it as a working relationship and denied that it equated to ‘cosiness’.
He said: ‘We were dealing with very powerful people who had a big impact on the political system. The big impact was hugely intensified and multiplied by the fact that if they were against you they were absolutely out, all out, against you, and that’s the issue in my view.’
The closeness was not the problem, he claimed, rather the ‘imbalance that comes into it’.
Asked about the Sun newspaper, Blair said it was important to get it ‘on board’. He said former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks mattered because she was editor of the Sun at the time, but the decision-maker was Murdoch not Brooks.
Asked about his friendship with Murdoch, Blair said it was a working relationship until after he left office and added that he would never have become the godfather of Murdoch’s daughter while he was in office.
Blair’s relationship with Murdoch first came into public view in 1995, when he travelled to Hayman Island in Australia to address News Corp executives.
In 1997 the Sun newspaper switched allegiance from Conservative to Labour.
Education Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May will appear at the Leveson Inquiry today and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and Business Secretary Vince Cable tomorrow, before Hunt appears on Thursday. It is expected that prime minister Cameron will appear on Thursday June 14.