A reader emailed Guido about Blair’s admission to Paxman regarding David Kelly “I don’t believe we had any option but to disclose his name“. Guido was a bit slow and missed the point (sorry Ron), but further reflection suggests it is was significant. In January 2004, Peter Oborne wrote a Spectator cover story calling Blair a liar and charging that he chaired the meeting where it was decided to reveal David Kelly’s name, which led to his suicide. Al Campbell’s diaries also shed some light on the matter. The spin counter attack was fierce, Oborne was ferociously rubbished by Blairites, in retrospect the critical paragraph of Oborne’s piece appears verified by Blair himself.
But it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion, on the basis of the evidence before the inquiry, that Tony Blair personally played the primary executive role in the sequence of events that led to the naming of Dr Kelly and onwards to his death in an Oxfordshire field. Two or three days after Kelly’s suicide, the Prime Minister was asked, ‘Did you authorise anyone in Downing Street or in the Ministry of Defence to release David Kelly’s name?’ He replied: ‘Emphatically not.’ He was asked again: ‘Why did you authorise the naming of David Kelly?’ He answered: ‘That is completely untrue.’ It is said around Whitehall that these two responses form no part of Lord Hutton’s investigation, since the Prime Minister uttered them after Dr Kelly’s death. I have racked my brains over Tony Blair’s answers for ages, but have been unable to avoid the conclusion that he was lying.
Under pressure witnesses tell police interviewers or cross-examining barristers the truth inadvertently. Being grilled by Paxman is exactly like that, did Blair let the truth slip under pressure on live TV?
UPDATE: Michael Ancram has written to Blair asking him to clarify his comments. Should be easy – “I fibbed”.