MP George Galloway has said it could be "morally justified" to assassinate Tony Blair, but stressed he was not calling for his death.
In an interview with GQ magazine he was asked whether a suicide bomb attack on Mr Blair would "be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq".
He said it would be morally equivalent to Mr Blair "ordering" Iraqi deaths.
But Mr Galloway said he would not support an attack and would tell the authorities if he knew of any plot.
Alert the authorities?
In the interview, former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan asked: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber, if there were no other casualties, be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"
The Respect MP replies: "Yes it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it, but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7.
"It would be entirely logical and explicable, and morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq as Blair did."
He was also asked whether he would alert the authorities if he knew Mr Blair was to be assassinated by Iraqis.
Mr Galloway replied: "My goodness this is a moral maze.
"Yes, I would, because such an operation would be counterproductive because it would just generate a new wave of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment whipped up by the press.
"It would lead to new draconian anti-terror laws, and would probably strengthen the resolve of the British and American services in Iraq rather than weaken it. So yes, I would inform the authorities."
War crimes appeal
Mr Galloway is standing by the controversial comments.
In a statement, the MP said: "Like the prime minister's wife commenting on suicide bombings in Israel I understand why such desperate acts take place and why those involved might believe such actions are morally justifiable.
"From the point of view of someone who has seen their country invaded and their family blown apart it's possible, of course, for them to construct a moral justification.
"But I've made my position clear. I would not support anyone seeking to assassinate the prime minister.
"That's why I said in the interview I would report to the authorities any such plot that I knew of.
"What I did make abundantly clear to Piers Morgan in the GQ interview is that I would like to see Tony Blair in front of a war crimes tribunal for sending this country to war illegally and for the appalling human consequences which resulted. That's what I will continue to press for."
Later, Mr Galloway told BBC Radio 4's PM he wanted to see "mass murderer" Mr Blair jailed for life for war crimes rather than killed.
But he said Iraqis had a right to resist the illegal occupation of their country.
He asked: "Why would that right be restricted to the poor bloody infantry that Mr Blair sent into the streets of Iraq?"
Downing Street has refused to comment on Mr Galloway's remarks.
But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell condemned the comments.
"If Mr Galloway is being accurately reported, he could well be regarded as providing encouragement to someone who might be disposed to carry out a crime of that kind," said Sir Menzies.
"No politician, ever, by act, word, or deed either expressly or by implication, should give any support to the notion that violence might be justified."
Labour MP Stephen Pound told The Sun newspaper the remarks were "disgraceful".
He said: "Every time you think he can't sink any lower he goes and stuns you again. It's beyond reprehensible to say it would be justified for a suicide bomber to assassinate anyone."
Mr Galloway has been in Cuba this week, where he made a surprise appearance on live television alongside Fidel Castro.
What is your reaction to George Galloway's remarks?
George Galloway's comments are so startling simply because they are direct and honest. We don't expect that from our politicians. We've got used to their weasel words and their hypocrisy. It's amazing that some people are squeamish about George Galloway's direct language but are undisturbed by Tony Blair's activities.
Steven Walker, Bradford UK
I certainly don't agree with what George has said, but I would fight to the death to defend his right to say it. Freedom of speech is a precious thing, even if you think what is being said is disgusting, we should be proud to live in a country where such things are tolerated.
Nick, Oxford, UK
Morality is a personal issue and as such it is variable by nature. Personal morals are forged by a deep seated belief in what is right. Morality cannot be prescribed by any third party or governing body - however righteous they may believe they are.
Steve, Brisbane, Australia
I did not support the Iraq war but once again George Galloway has said something so stupid that I am embarrassed ever to have shared an opinion with him on anything. The only clever thing about his remarks is that he qualified them so as to stay on the right side of the law - pure cynicism.
Clare Barker, London
He can say whatever he likes. What he said is no more disgraceful than many things Bush or Blair have said, he just didn't dress it up in fancy language.
Coming from a respectable MP (there are still some about) this comment would have made an interesting talking point. Coming from George Galloway it is, however, a carefully placed statement designed to get George Galloway back in the public eye. Whether you agree with the comment, disagree with the comment or understand and share some of the feelings that would lead to such a comment are irrelevant. The statement is purely about George Galloway and what he represents. I sincerely hope that for once he is a man of his word and does not seek re-election..
Ben Clacy, Reading, UK
What a storm in a teacup! I can't say I like George Galloway much but he was asked a question and so he answered it. Had George Galloway brought the subject of his own accord, I can see how it would be deemed tasteless but I fail to see why he should be effectively held responsible for the questions he is asked in a magazine interview.
Paul Hawkins, London, UK
To quote: "No politician, ever, by act, word, or deed either expressly or by implication, should give any support to the notion that violence might be justified." right. In the context of the debate of the war in Iraq that statement is hypocritical and toothless.
oskar holm, pasadena, usa
George Galloway is deliberately "winding us all up," hoping that the political establishment will take some form of action against him and make him even more famous, or is that infamous.
Martin, London U.K.
Not many people like George Galloway's methods but most decent people agree with his reasoning, at least on the Iraq issue. Far fewer people agree with the methods or the reasoning of Tony Blair. Yes, let's have that poll.
Robert Wilkinson, Waterloo, Belgium
Mr Galloway answered the questions put to him by the press. What was the press's reason for asking these questions, surely only to get something with drama to print and sell papers. His answers were well stated and what most people think.
Greg Page, Siena Italy
I sometimes think that George Galloway is nobody's fool. Then he comes out with comments like this that prove me wrong
Ronnie Stuart , Kirkcaldy , Scotland
George Galloway never seems to be fettered by common inhibiting factors such as good taste - but I fully support the idea of Blair (and even Bush) being brought before The Hague to answer for their actions.
John Berkeley, Cambridge, UK
The principle of moral equivalence, an elementary consideration in deciding the ethical value of acts and policies, is seldom observed in any situation admitting of an 'us and them' mentality. Of course Mr Galloway will be vilified for his statement, because he failed to express himself (however foolishly) in the customary doublespeak. When his remarks are forgotten, workplace bullying, low wages, foreign resource wars and authoritarian policies will still be enforced, justified by the usual pabulum.
Peter Clarkson, West Yorks
You get the feeling that George Galloway is only ever after attention. It's childish behaviour, making controversial remarks, being seen with controversial people, to get in the limelight. And the media will go on giving him the attention because that's what they want too...
Dave, London, UKHow can anyone take George "the cat" Galloway seriously. The man is a laughing stock!
Jonathan T, London, UK
I note the way Mr Galloway sucks up to Fidel Castro, who despite his appearance as a benevolent caring leader, makes use of a strong secret police, dictatorial powers, show trials and locking opposition away or simply throwing them out of Cuba as a means of control. They say judge a man by the company he keeps. I admit, Blair's present company (Bush) speaks volumes, but Galloway's previous company (Saddam Hussain and now Castro) says just as much about him too.
Nick Starling, Norfolk, England
The MPs lining up to attack Galloway might spend their time more fruitfully reading his actual remarks regarding this row (found on the Respect website), rather than following the usual tactic of lambasting him on the basis of what his political opponents have said of him. Galloway is, as a prominent member of Stop the War, clearly one of the most anti-violent, anti-war politicians in this country, and as such more in accord with the majority of the public than Mr Blair.
David Moss, Canterbury, UK
The comments by Sir Menzies and Mr Pound are ridiculous. Mr Galloway simply says he understands why people are driven to this, he does not say he supports it. I have enormous respect for Menzies and Pound, but cannot fathom how men of such standing can fail to understand the desperation that others feel and their defence of their understanding of the world.
John Stephen, Cupar, Fife
Such comments are scandalous and should not be encouraged even within the context of "freedom of speech" they are harmful
I completely concur with Mr. Galloway's remarks and caveats. Well said!
Iain Crawford, Paisley, Scotland
Fair enough. Read the points Galloway makes and take them IN CONTEXT. If you had seen your family shot, dismembered by high explosives or burned to the bone by Allied phosphorous bombs, whether this was by troops or the ensuing chaos the US/UK unleashed, you would feel fully justified in exacting whatever revenge seemed good to you at the time. This is why reasonable people were against the invasion of Iraq in the first place. Yes - it was an invasion.
G Pulford, Surrey, UK
George's comments are distasteful. But I fully support the idea of bringing Tony Blair in front of a war crimes court.
Killing anyone in revenge is never justified morally, but I can see (like Galloway suggests) how some angry extremists might feel driven to do such a thing (to Blair).. BUT that is not the same as condoning such an action. It amazes me that when people attempt to try to understand why others would want to take such action, it is not the same as saying it is OK to do it!... which seems to be the knee-jerk reaction of certain media commentators, to anyone's attempts to try to get to the roots of the causes of terrorism. Tough on terrorism sure, ...but vitally we have to be tough on the causes of terrorism...but that involves some uncomfortable confrontations with the historical failings of the West's foreign policy, which has indeed been morally unjustifiable in many ways in the Middle East
leigh oswald, London England
George Galloway's comments are perfectly fair. Sir Menzies Campbell however might want to look at the last few wars our Prime Ministers have sent troops to if he thinks politicians shouldn't and don't justify violence.
R J Tysoe, London, UK
What if Mr. Galloway's ideology prevailed in the 30s? May I suggest he visit the Churchill Museum? There are some interesting lessons to be learned there. Any chance he can remain in Cuba?
Byon Yeatts, Kennebunk Maine USA
Everyone has a right to speak freely, Galloway shouldn't abuse that right by saying what he did, by saying it he hasn't achieved much. Everyone still thinks he is a fool.
A Shah, London UK
We now actually have a Member of Parliament who is required to state,"I would not support anyone seeking to assassinate the Prime Minister". Much as Galloway is a joke this is a sad moment British politics.
Dr Viv, Manchester UK
This fake outrage from some of the media and politicians is so typical. Take MP Stephen Pound's comments for a start - he voted for the Iraq war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and yet he has the gall to say that it is Galloway that is 'twisted'. It is this sort of hypocrisy that is breathtaking, not Galloway's comments, which I'm sure are shared by many people.
Mary Allen, Middlesex
Simply disgraceful. Who voted for him?
Bob, Leeds, UK
Absolutely disgraceful. How can an elected MP propose and justify such an atrocity. He should be investigated for incitement to cause a terrorist act. He also said outside of the protection of the House of Commons so is liable for such words and should be held accountable. Unbelievable.
Dennis Cheetham, London England
Interesting that Sir Menzies Campbell appears to believe that violence is justified if it is a country going to war and killing innocent people, but the mere act of understanding the points of view of people who may wish to commit violence in retaliation for the killing of innocent people, is not justified.
Gill, Bristol UK
Galloway should get himself back into the Big Brother house, where he is clearly more at home surrounded by fellow irrational and unstable personalities, boosting his own ego and agenda, as Galloway always will. An utter disgrace.
Adrian Pigott, Chatham, England.
Galloway's comments seem perfectly understandable in the light of the questions he was actually asked. What is unreasonable is the manufactured outrage of the press and politicians .He's a convenient hate figure - and the coverage so far generates more heat than light.
Chris Horner, London, UK
Whilst I believe George Galloway to be a misguided individual, he is of course quite correct, and is only being purely logical. I also agree with him when he says that Blair should be considered a war criminal.
Brian O'Geyman, Kenilworth Warwickshire
Freedom of speech?
It seems clear that relative political no-body's in this day and age need to make the most repulsive of comments to remain in the public eye. Equally, no-one forgets how much of an idiot he made of himself in the Big Brother house!
J Stevens, Telford, Shropshire
How can a person who claims that violence is never justifiable support a war, especially a war as legally dubious as the one in Iraq? Assassination is never a justifiable means to any end. Equally, our politicians should never be held beyond the law when it comes to justifying events as dramatic as bringing the country to war. Politicians are supposed to serve the public, not their party, or friends in other countries. The current government should be held to full independent account for the situation they have created.
Brian, Belfast, UK
Why do people find the thought of a "suicide bomber" so horrific, yet they seem to find it acceptable to kill thousands of innocent civilians with cruise missiles, tanks and helicopter gunships?
Rita Patel, London, UK
I can't stand George Galloway, but I do understand his comments. There is a flurry of MPs and journalists desperate to misrepresent him. He clearly states that he does not advocate killing the Prime Minister and says that were he aware of a plot to do so, he would report it to the authorities. All he is saying is that many people would be able to morally justify killing Mr Blair. Sadly, the same could be said for any leader who takes a country into war.
Greg Sullivan, London, England
I think Mr Galloway is entitled to his opinion, whether we agree with or not is another issue.
Naveed Khan, London
Galloway should be forced to stand down immediately for his comments. It is outrageous that any MP should comment that the assassination of our prime minister would be justified. I respected him for standing up to the US administration (although I do not know the full circumstances of that), but it appears he is just a fool.
A Wilson, Aberdeen
How about you do a poll and see how many agree with Mr Galloway? What are you scared of?
John Baker, London