Murdoch pressured Blair to rush into Iraq war, says Campbell in diaries

Spin doctor's claims in latest book contradict media mogul's evidence at Leveson Inquiry

Rupert Murdoch launched an “over-crude” campaign to force Tony Blair to speed up Britain's entry into the Iraq war, according to the final volume of Alastair Campbell's diaries.

Mr Blair's former communications director accuses the media mogul of being part of a drive by American Republicans to drag Britain into the controversial war a week before the House of Commons even voted to approve the intervention in 2003.

The claim is explosive because it appears to contradict Mr Murdoch's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The News Corp chief told Lord Justice Leveson in April: "I've never asked a prime minister for anything."

It is the second time that claim has been contested. Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, told the inquiry this week that Mr Murdoch threatened to withdraw the support of his newspapers for his Government unless it took a tougher stance on Europe.

Mr Campbell's book, based on his extensive diaries during his 10 years working for Mr Blair, claims: "[Tony Blair] took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc.

"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, how the longer we waited the harder it got....TB felt the Murdoch call was odd, not very clever."

Mr Murdoch is expected to stand by his evidence to the inquiry. His company believes there was nothing improper about his phone call to Mr Blair – one of three during that period previously revealed by The Independent – because the support of The Sun and News of the World for the war was well known.

In The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq which is being serialised in The Guardian, Mr Campbell casts doubt on Gordon Brown's claim to the Leveson Inquiry this week that he was not aware his close allies were trying to push Mr Blair out of Downing Street to that he could take over.

According to Mr Campbell, Mr Brown agitated aggressively against Mr Blair, demanding a departure date soon after the 9/11 attacks in the US. He claims that Downing Street concluded in 2002 the then Chancellor was "hell-bent on TB's destruction".

The book says Mr Brown and Ed Balls, his chief economic adviser at the Treasury, were suspected of plotting against Mr Blair.

Alan Milburn, the Blairite Health Secretary, told the then Prime Minister that Mr Brown encouraged MPs to defy a government three-line whip to vote against his plans for foundation hospitals in 2003.

One charge that Mr Brown might accept is that he and Mr Balls "thwarted" Mr Blair's attempt to take Britain into the euro. Mr Campbell wrote in 2003: "Things just hadn't worked on the euro and TB was pretty fed up... The judgment was settling that GB had basically thwarted him. TB feared we were making the wrong decision for the wrong reasons."

* Paul Jenkins, the lawyer who gave legal approval for Jeremy Hunt to oversee Rupert Murdoch's attempted takeover of BSkyB, is knighted today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee