In dramatic scenes, an anti-war protester on Monday stormed into a courtroom where the former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was giving evidence to the ongoing judicial inquiry into media ethics and shouted that he “should be arrested for war crimes” for invading Iraq.
Branding Mr. Blair a “war criminal”, the man later identified as David Lawley Wakelin said: “JP Morgan paid him off for the Iraq war. Three months after he invaded Iraq, they held up the Iraq bank for 20 billion. He was then paid six million dollars every year and still is from JP Morgan six months after he left office. This man is a war criminal.”
Mr. Blair, who has faced similar protests in the past, nevertheless looked shocked as the protester suddenly appeared from behind a curtain and started shouting. He was quickly overpowered and bundled away. Mr. Wakelin (49) was arrested on suspicion of breach of peace but later released without any action. The judge, Lord Justice Leveson, presiding over the inquiry, apologised to Mr. Blair and ordered an investigation into how the man managed to evade security and enter the courtroom through a private corridor.
“I'm sorry for that Mr. Blair. I would like to find out how this gentleman managed to access the court through what is supposed to be a secure corridor. I will have an investigation undertaken about that immediately. I apologise,” he said.
Mr. Blair, denying the allegations, told the inquiry that what “he said about Iraq and JP Morgan is completely and totally untrue”.
“I have never had any discussion with them about that,” he said.
As Mr Blair left the court, someone hurled eggs at his car.
The day-long hearing, sparked by the News of the World phone hacking scandal, was dominated by Mr. Blair's relationship with the media, especially Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers, when he was Prime Minister.
Mr. Blair admitted that over the years an “unhealthy” relationship had evolved between the press and politicians but denied having ever striking a deal with the Murdoch press in return for its backing for his government.
“There was no deal on issues to do with the media, either with Rupert Murdoch or anyone else within the media, either express or implied, and to be fair he never sought such a thing..,” he said adding: “When it came to the specific issues in relation to the Murdoch media group, we more often decided against them than in favour of them.”
Mr. Blair is among several senior politicians, including Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt who is under pressure over allegations of his proximity to the Murdoch executives, due to appear before the inquiry this week.