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Jan 15th, 2010

Philippe Sands QC: what I’d ask Blair

By KatyW

Over the past week 38 Degrees members have been thinking of tough questions to ask Tony Blair at the Iraq Inquiry. On Wednesday Hannah and I went to a high profile event at the Foreign Press Association, which was  inspired by our campaign.

Discussing how the Inquiry should be carried out were Jon Snow, the veteran Channel 4 journalist, and Professor Philippe Sands, a QC who has written a book on the legality of the Iraq war.

Jon Snow then asked Professor Sands how he would handle the interrogation of Tony Blair and other ministers if he was a member of the panel. Professor Sands responded at length, but his main ideas were:

Firstly, he would insist on the use of documentary evidence, some of which is currently unavailable to the public, to help expose the flaws in witnesses’ statements.

Secondly, he would find out Blair’s motivation in going to war by questioning him closely about the inconsistencies in his thinking in the year before the decision was taken.

Thirdly, he would ask about the content of the available intelligence in the run up to the war, why the government had waited so long to ask for legal advice, and about Lord Goldsmith’s role.

Finally, he would ask why “no thought [was] given on a systematic basis” to the question of post-war planning and the possible effect of the war on the Middle East. Had Blair even read the advice on regional instabilities given to him by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?

The discussion finished with a bit of psychological speculation about why Tony Blair did go to war. Professor Sands was happy to give his opinion on the matter: Tony “needed to be loved by the biggest boy in the playground”: George Bush.

You can listen to recording of the whole conversation at the Foreign Press Association website.

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