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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Timeline: Queen Mother funeral row
Tony Blair and fellow politicians file past the coffin
Tony Blair reportedly wanted a bigger role at the funeral
A row between Downing Street and sections of the press over Tony Blair's role during the Queen Mother's lying-in-state continues to hit the headlines.

Here is how events unfolded.

April 4 2002: The Queen Mother's coffin is taken to Westminster Hall for the lying-in-state ahead of her funeral.

April 19: Spectator magazine claims prime minister tried to 'muscle in' on plans for the Queen Mother's lying-in-state.

April 21: Mail on Sunday claims that a Downing Street aide telephoned General Sir Michael Willcocks, the senior parliamentary official known as Black Rod, and asked if Tony Blair would be able to greet the Queen and the coffin as it arrived at Westminster Hall.

April 24: Downing Street confirms it has lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission over the reports, saying an aide had contacted Black Rod, but only to "clarify" the prime minister's role. Spectator journalist Peter Oborne stands by his claims.

June 7: Press Complaints Commission writes to Alastair Campell, Downing Street director of communications, to say it believes it "will never be in a position fully to ascertain the facts and this issue will remain a matter largely of interpretation".

Boris Johnson
Spectator Boris Johnson insists the story is true
It said none of the publications making the claim had produced evidence in their defence that Mr Blair at any stage did anything wrong or sought for himself a greater role in proceedings.

The PCC went on: "During our investigation so far, nothing new has been provided to suggest otherwise.

As your main concern has always been to have it agreed and accepted that the Prime Minister did nothing wrong or disrespectful, I wonder if on that basis you would consider that this is a suitable outcome to the complaint and that the matter is now resolved accordingly?"

June 10: Mr Campbell replies to the PCC saying that Downing Street sees no need to pursue the matter further.

He says Mr Blair is "content with your clear view that there is no suggestion that he was in any way involved in any discussions about seeking a greater role in the arrangements or indeed that he was even aware such discussions were taking place, and that any suggestion that he sought such a role is false".

He claims that the publications involved had accepted that Mr Blair had not tried to enhance his role "and your investigation to date appears to prove our point on this".

He goes on: "Based upon the newspapers' own evidence, let alone ours, it is my view that any adjudication would find that the Prime Minister had nothing whatever to do with these contacts, had never sought to enhance his role or exploit The Queen Mother's death in any way."

But he warns that Mr Blair is prepared to go back to the PCC for a definitive ruling if the allegations continue to be made.

June 13: Mr Oborne claims that Downing Street dropped its complaint because it "feared" Black Rod's version of events, saying Sir Michael had produced "a long, detailed and scrupulously documented memorandum that revealed the full details of how Downing Street tried to establish a bigger role for the prime minister".

The prime minister's aides issue a statement saying a plan for Mr Blair to walk through the crowds from Downing Street to the lying-in-state had been examined by detectives but rejected.

June 14: Mr Blair issues a statement on the affair and a 29-page dossier outlining discussions between Downing Street and Black Rod over his role at the lying-in-state.

The heat turns on Mr Campbell as two Labour MPs say it is time for him to bow out of his role within the government.

June 16

The Mail on Sunday publishes details of Black Rod's so-called "killer memo", which, the newspaper claims, shows Downing Street put him "under huge pressure" to increase Mr Blair's prominence in the lying-in-state.

Tory Party chairman calls David Davies calls on Mr Blair to make a Commons statement on the affair.

Northern Ireland Sectetary John Reid dismisses it as "tittle-tattle".

June 17

Liberal Democrat chairman Mark Oaten calls on Black Rod to publish his version of events.


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04 Apr 02 | UK Politics
11 Jun 02 | UK Politics
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