A campaign to strip former prime minister Tony Blair of his knighthood received a boost over night following damning allegations from his own defense secretary Geoff Hoon.
Hoon has claimed that he was ordered by Downing Street to burn a secret memo that said the 2003 invasion of Iraq could be illegal.
When the claim first emerged in 2015, the war criminal Blair, or rather Sir Tony, said it was ‘nonsense’.
The Mail Online reports: But Mr Hoon, who was in charge of defense when the war started, insists the allegation was true and he has now given a sensational blow-by-blow account of a No 10 ‘cover-up’.
He says his principal private secretary was told ‘in no uncertain terms’ by Jonathan Powell, Sir Tony’s chief of staff, that after reading the document he must ‘burn it’. Mr Hoon said the MoD mandarin was deeply alarmed by the order – and they defied Downing Street by locking the memo in a safe instead. He also:
- Echoes claims that Sir Tony signed a ‘deal in blood’ with George Bush to back the war a year before it began;
- Reveals he was given a prime ministerial dressing down for telling the US that if MPs voted against the war UK troops couldn’t take part;
- Accuses the No 10 press office of being behind notorious ’45 minutes from doom’ reports that exaggerated the threat from Saddam Hussein’s military;
- Says he was sacked and ‘hung out to dry’ by Sir Tony to escape blame for the war.
The allegations came as the number of people who have signed a petition calling for a U-turn on the former Labour prime minister’s honour surpassed 680,000.
The Queen has made him a knight companion of the Order of the Garter, Britain’s oldest order of chivalry.
The onslaught from Mr Hoon in his memoir, See How They Run, is all the more damaging because he was one of Sir Tony’s closest personal and political allies. He describes his shock at being told to destroy secret advice from attorney general Lord Goldsmith on the legality of the war in the run-up to the conflict. It was later revealed that Lord Goldsmith said the war could be illegal. Days before fighting began, he changed his mind and said it was legal.