‘Blair did no trust cabinet on ‘Iraq war discussions, feared leaks

Saturday, January 29, 2011

LONDON - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair did not trust his own cabinet and was “reluctant” to hold discussions with it on a proposal to go to war against Iraq fearing that details would be leaked, the UK’s top civil servant told the Chilcot Inquiry.

Though Blair has insisted that his cabinet was briefed throughout about decisions related to the Iraq war, former Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, claimed the Prime Minister found the cabinet an unsafe place to hold discussions on key issues.

O’Donnell was the top civil servant at the Treasury in the run-up to the 2003 war before becoming Cabinet Secretary and heading the Civil Service in 2005.

According to the BBC, he also claimed that Blair held fewer cabinet meetings because he almost always had a different opinion about taking decisions collectively.

“I think one of the reasons the Prime Minister was reluctant, at times, to take as many Cabinet discussions as possible was because he felt that they would become very public, very quickly,” Sir O’Donnell told the inquiry.

“You have to understand why would he [Mr Blair] not go for these meetings, and I think, it was because we would have thought it was not a safe space,” he added.

Sir O’Donnell was backed by his predecessor Lord Turnbull, who said the cabinet had a vague idea about the war because it was not shown crucial papers that alarmed action against the invasion. (ANI)

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