Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Iraq inquiry: reaction to Blair evidence

Tony Blair: "I think that Saddam Hussein was a monster...it was better to deal with this threat"

Tony Blair has spent the day defending his decision to back the war in Iraq, saying he would make the same choices again.

The former prime minister said Saddam Hussein was a "monster" and that he had "no regrets" about removing him.

But as Mr Blair left the inquiry room, opponents of the war shouted that he was "a liar" and a "murderer". Here are some reactions to the former prime minister's evidence.

REG KEYS, LOST HIS SON IN IRAQ

"He [Mr Blair] had an opportunity to apply some soothing balm to some of the open wounds of grief that were in that room. I saw a couple of mothers in there break down at the end in tears because the man, all he had to say, to assuage the grief, was 'I do regret the loss of life', but he was quite remorseless, no regret at all.

He chose to ignore all the advice and steamroller in

"And I just can't comprehend the sheer incompetence here of the planning. OK, the world might be a better place without Saddam, but Tony Blair went about it in completely the wrong way with the misleading of Parliament, with not going down the UN path, with not getting full legal backing for the war.

"And then the incompetence where he said he was surprised, in there, at the Iranian influence after the invasion. And also that al-Qaeda moved in. For goodness sake, what does the man expect? The local darts team down the pub could have told him that.

"Here is a man with a wealth of Middle Eastern experts at his fingertips, yet he chose to ignore all the advice and steamroller in. It had something of the flavour of a runaway train, he'd gone along with it and he couldn't stop it."

DAVID CAMERON, CONSERVATIVE LEADER

"I think the whole point of having a full-scale, proper inquiry with proper public sessions, proper discovery of papers - all of which, by the way, the Conservative Party called for - is to get to the truth about these issues.

"Clearly, some of the information that was put in front of Parliament - the 'dodgy dossier' for instance - was just unacceptable and was wrong and shouldn't happen again, but I think we have to wait for Chilcot's full report before we come to a full conclusion."

NICK CLEGG, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER

"I'm not sure if people have learned that much which is substantially new from Tony Blair today, and I've been quite critical about the way in which the inquiry has been set up. I don't think it's been open and public enough.

"But I think it's a good thing that - as the prime minister who took us to war seven years ago - he is now there in public, justifying what I regard as the unjustifiable. Because that makes it all the more difficult for Britain ever to be taken to war again, simply on the personal whim of the prime minister. That must never be allowed to happen again."

DAVID MILIBAND, FOREIGN SECRETARY

"I think we have had months of allegations, notably against the former prime minister, Tony Blair, and today for the first time you've got a proper explanation and people are going to be able to see the difference between allegations - many of them based on conspiracy theories - and explanation based on facts.

"And that, I think, will allow people to see the basis on which decisions were made, the basis on which judgements were made."

MARGARET BECKETT, FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY

"The classic example is this 45-minute thing: some of the evidence that I have read or seen, where different people are being asked about it, it's almost as if ... it was the most major thing, it was the reason why Parliament decided [to go to war] - which, in my judgement, is just not true at all."

LABOUR MP CHRIS MULLIN, VOTED AGAINST THE WAR

"I think he [Mr Blair] believed as a matter of principle that you had to keep in with the Americans at all costs, and I certainly think that was his view after 9/11 - and therefore he was almost unequivocal, no, he was unequivocal, in his public support for the Americans.

His biggest mistake is that he linked us umbilically to the worst American president in my lifetime

"I think he took the view that providing you remained absolutely on their side from the outset you could, behind the scenes, exercise a bit of influence and I think undoubtedly, for example, he did persuade the Americans to go down the United Nations route, which I'm sure they weren't intending to do at first.

"My biggest regret is that - and it's his biggest mistake - is that he linked us umbilically to the worst American president in my lifetime."

JAMES SADRI, HECKLED TONY BLAIR AT INQUIRY

"It was just the kind of audacity of Tony Blair to talk openly about the fact that 100,000 people, that he would accept have died, have been killed and have no regrets about it.

"I think a lot of people in the room were feeling really frustrated, but the kind of atmosphere was really quiet and serious and people felt they couldn't say anything.

"I was just amazed, you know. He was asked directly, do you have any regrets? And he said, no, he doesn't have any regrets. And frankly I am absolutely shocked at what the inquiry let him get away with."



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