Tony Blair At Leveson: David Lawley Wakelin Interrupts Testimony, Says Former PM Should Be Arrested As 'War Criminal'

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A protester interrupted Tony Blair's testimony at the Leveson Inquiry on Monday, shouting: "The man is a war criminal!"

The intruder, a white male in his 40s, was forcibly removed from the room after entering through the non-public part of the Royal Court of Justice.

Before being wrestled out of the room, the protester shouted: "This man should be arrested for war crimes... JPMorgan paid him off for the Iraq War... three months after he invaded Iraq he held up the Iraq bank for £20bn. He was then paid $6bn a year by JPMorgan and still is... the man is a war criminal."

After the incident, a man identified himself to reporters as David Lawley Wakelin from the Alternative Iraq Enquiry. He spoke as security guards escorted him through the Royal Courts of Justice.

It is understood the protester, who burst into the hearing directly behind Lord Justice Leveson, managed to get past security-coded doors to access the judges' corridor leading to courtroom 73. He was subsequently arrested and released without charge.

Following the incident, a different protester threw an egg at the former PM's car as he left the inquiry, according to reports.


Ian Jones
An egg was thrown at Tony Blair's car as he left . I'm sure Mr Blair will treat it as a matter of pride.

Lord Justice Leveson has ordered an immediate investigation into how the man gained access.

He said: "I would like to find out how this gentleman managed to access the court through what's supposed to be a secure corridor and I'll have an investigation undertaken about that immediately."

Blair remained calm throughout the disturbance.

After the removal of the protester, Mr Blair denied his allegations.

He told the hearing: "What he said about Iraq and JP Morgan is completely untrue.

"I've never had a discussion with them about that."

robert jay

Even Robert Jay was lightly ruffled by the intruder

A spokesman for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service said the Service took security very seriously at all of their venues.

"An investigation has been ordered into an incident at the Leveson Inquiry, Royal Courts of Justice, today.

"It would be inappropriate to pre-empt the findings of this investigation," he added.

When the hearing reconvened for the afternoon, Lord Justice Leveson told the court the Inquiry and HMCTS took the incident "extremely seriously" and apologised for the breach.


Jonnie Marbles
Big props to David Lawley-Wakelin, the guy who confronted Blair at . Long may this proud tradition of trolling twats continue.

He said: "Considerable effort has been put into ensuring all witnesses can give their evidence in a safe and secure environment and I very much regret what has happened.

"An investigation is being undertaken and I will be giving consideration to the steps that can be taken and should be
taken against this particular intruder.

"Efforts will be redoubled to ensure that incidents of this nature don't recur.

"I repeat my apologies to Mr Blair and indeed to everyone else who was involved in or following our inquiry."

Earlier, Blair said he felt the power of the British media was unhealthy while he was PM - but chose not to take it on as it would have prevented him from pursuing any other policies while in power.

On arriving to give evidence at the inquiry, the former PM had been greeted by around two dozen or so protesters as he arrived at the courts this morning.

They waved banners reading "Troops home", "Bliar" and "Afghanistan out".

blair protest

A man, reportedly David Lawley Wakelin, was led away from the Royal Courts by police

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Leveson: Reaction To Tony Blair Intruder
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Blair's time in front of Leveson has come to a close. Towards the end it was less of a grilling more of a cosy fireside chat.

Join us tomorrow when we will hear from education secretary (and former Times journalist) Michael Gove and home secretary Theresa May.

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Lord Justice Leveson just asked Blair what may have been the longest question ever asked. The line that will come as a relief to many was "I have absolutely no interest in imperilling the freedom of the press".

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Tom Watson has posted a quick response on his blog to Blair's answers about his resignation. You can read it here:

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Here is a picture of the protester, named as David Lawley-Wakelin, being led away by police.

blair protest

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@ BBCNormanS : TB extolling the virtues of US papers over UK press. Er..but have u read them ? Dullsville Central #leveson #blair

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Blair is comparing the British media to the US media. He says American papers are capable of having a editorial line while at the same time reporting the "facts" as facts.

The collective response from many British journalists on Twitter is to argue that US papers are "dull".

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Blair has moved on to talk about the nature of news in an era of Twitter and 24-hour news channels. He says there is a "race to the bottom" which is damaging to the political debate.

"These guys have got to say something and they just say the same thing they were saying a few moments ago," he observes.

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Blair says one cabinet minister once came to him to resign as he had read in the newspapers that he was going to be sacked.

He says he had to spend half an hour persuading him that he was never going to be fired in the first place.

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Blair says he sometimes made ministers resigned even though they had done nothing wrong as the press coverage was becoming too damaging.

He specifically cites the second time Peter Mandelson was forced to quit the government.

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Tony Blair is asked about Labour MP Tom Watson, who resigned from his government after calling on him to resign.

"I was prime minister, he had effecievely taken part in the coup in 2006 against a prime minister," Blair says.

Blair says Watson resigned "literally moments" before he fired him. "You can't remain a minister if you called for the PM to go"

Blair says that his allies wanted to "go on the attack" but he said he decided he would have to announce when he would leave No.10 in favour of Gordon Brown.

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Blair says The Sun was "out of order" when it published a full scale attack on Gordon Brown for making errors in a letter he wrote to a British soldier killed in Afghanistan.

In January 2009 the tabloid published a picture of a letter in which the-then prime minister referred to the mother of 20-year-old Jamie Janes as "Mrs James".

Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, said an "incredibly aggressive and angry" Brown had phoned her to complain and that she sympathised with his view.

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Blair is back up and Leveson is apologising to the former PM for the protester.

He said: "Considerable effort has been taken that all witnesses can give evidence in a safe and secure environment, I regret what has happened and an investigation is being undertaken."

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The inquiry has taken a break for an hour now. Don't worry! Blair will be back from 1pm.

So far the former prime minister has reminded us why he was such an effective operator. Smooth as ever he effectively took control of the proceedings, animated hands and all.

His key message was that he did not do any sort of deal with Rupert Murdoch and that while he would have liked to take on the power of the press he wanted to get on with public service reform.

The other point of note was of course the protestor bursting in, something that is likely to grab the headlines.

A interesting sidebar: While the inquiry has been going on Guido Fawkes has posted this fantastic video of the modern Downing Street press operation at work.

Downing Street's Craig Oliver is captured giving the BBC's chief political correspondent a right telling off.

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Back to the substance of the questioning this is the key line that Blair has been pushing all day: "I don't know a policy that we changes as a result of Rupert Murdoch".

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blair

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A video has been posted online of the moment the intruder burst into the court. He begins his tirade with the words: "excuse me, this man is a war criminal". How polite.

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Following the disturbance, Lord justice Leveson ordered an immediate inquiry into how the man gained access.

So that's two inquiries he has running now. Busy man.

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@ JoeWatts_ : Blair was fairly astute to get his rebuttal in straight away. There is no doubt that will be a major part of the story tomorrow.

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@ hopisen : The way Blair rebutted then dryly pointed out to Leveson that a politician has to always be aware of how media will report events was meta.

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The demonstrator shouted at Blair accusing him of taking money from the bank JP Morgan to promote the war in Iraq. After being nailed by security he was dragged from the court.

Blair takes a moment to deny the charge that he is a war criminal - unsurprisingly.

A win for Leveson security there. The judge is furious, in his understated way.

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Perhaps it was inevitable. A protestor has burst into the court room: "The man is a war criminal" he shouts before getting bundled out of the room.

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Blair has returned to why he chose not to 'take on' the media upon coming to office.

"I was not going to have the Labour Party coming back into power with a programme of change for the coutnry and having the centre piece to do with media ownership, I thought that would have been a distraction and wrong," he says.

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Blair says new technology such has Twitter has fundamentally changed the way politics works as stories move much quicker.

"The business of politics has become acutely more difficult," he says.

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Blair tells the inquiry that his "minimum objective" in courting the Murdoch press was to stop it from "taring us to pieces" while the maximum was to get its support.

"I did not change our position on core policy issues at all," Blair says.

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Tony Blair says there was " no deal" with Murdoch on media law in the UK "either express or implied".

"To be fair he never sought such a thing," Blair adds.

Previous Labour witnesses including Alastair Campbell, Lord Mandelson and Tessa Jowell have all been quizzed over whether Blair made a deal with Murdoch to pass legislation favoured by News Corp in exchange for favourable press coverage.

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After a short break Blair is back and now the questioning has moved specifically onto the Murdochs.

Blair says that if Murdoch had decided to "wage war" on New Labour then he would have stood up to him.

"If they had started to treat me as they had Neil Kinnock, I would have fought back in a very tough way," he says.

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Blair says he does not think Rupert Murdoch simply backs the winner. He says the media mogul has "very strong political views" which influence which party he decides his papers should support.

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@ tombradby : Like him or loathe him, Blair is a brilliant performer. There is just no one anywhere near as good on the scene these days.

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Blair says that while he was close to Rebekah Brooks during his time as prime minister that was not the crucial relationship as she did not control the editorial line of The Sun (which she edited).

"Bluntly the decision maker was not Rebekah Brooks," he says. It is clear he means Rupert Murdoch was.

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@ politicshomeuk : Blair: sample of 100 Mail stories between 2005-2007 by his office found all 100 were negative coverage. Follow live at http://t.co/SD8R7U63

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