Alastair Campbell claims Murdoch called Blair to avoid Iraq war delays
The latest claim in the former Director of Communications’ diary, currently being serialised in The Guardian, is that media mogul Rupert Murdoch made three phone calls to former Prime Minister Tony Blair urging him not to delay the invasion of Iraq on behalf of US Republicans.
Campbell wrote that on 11th March 2003, just a week before the House of Commons vote that led to the deployment of British troops to Iraq, Murdoch began attempting to push Blair towards the war in Iraq.
Campbell wrote: “[Tony Blair] took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us…Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons.”
News Corporation, of which Murdoch is the Chairman and CEO, are making it clear that Murdoch has never denied trying to influence politicians on policies. Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has also made claims that Murdoch asked him to change policies on Europe.
News Corp has said, however, that these particular claims are unsubstantiated. A statement reads: “It is complete rubbish to suggest that Rupert Murdoch lobbied Mr Blair over the Iraq war on behalf of the US Republicans.”
The incident is likely to lead to questioning over one of the statements made by Murdoch at the Leveson Inquiry, when Murdoch pronounced: “I’ve never asked a Prime Minister for anything.”