Tony Blair has ordered a "special Iraq honours list" to reward civil servants who supported him over the war, it was reported last night in The Sunday Times.
The Prime Minister wants 50 non-military officials to be given gongs in a special list, a leaked Whitehall memo is said to reveal.
John Scarlett, the new head of MI6 who oversaw the preparation of the controversial September 2002 dossier alleging Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, would be a contender for any special honours list. Also likely to be rewarded would be staff working for Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, who finessed the legal case for the invasion.
The memo is said to reveal that Mr Blair has asked Sir David Omand, his leading security adviser, to supply his own list of candidates for recognition. One mandarin reportedly already recommended for inclusion is Jane Marriott. As head of the Foreign Office department on nuclear proliferation, the civil servant was at the centre of the Government's assessments over Iraqi WMD.
Mr Blair, as prime minister, has the right to specify the general make-up of honours lists, but the publication of an Iraq list, in the run-up to an election expected next year, would spark deep anger among opponents of the war.
His willingness to honour figures caught up in the controversy is already well-established. His official spokesman, Tom Kelly, was given a gong last year despite admitting that he dismissed as a "Walter Mitty figure" Dr David Kelly, the government weapons scientist.
* An opinion poll in The Mail on Sunday by YouGov found that 36 per cent of people believe Mr Blair should quit over the Iraq war. Michael Howard will be despondent at the result of an ICM poll in The Sunday Telegraph which puts the Conservatives on 30 per cent to Labour's 39 per cent. Mr Howard's trust ratings, moreover, are found to be the lowest of the three main political leaders, according to a Populus poll for The News of the World. It finds that just 24 per cent think Mr Howard is the most trustworthy leader.
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