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Blair was told US 'Fixed' case for war

By Sydney Morning Herald

03/20/05 "SMH"
- - The head of Britain's foreign intelligence agency told the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that the case for war in Iraq was being "fixed" by Washington to suit US policy, a BBC documentary will claim today.

Richard Dearlove, head of MI6, briefed Blair and a group of ministers on the United States' determination to launch the invasion nine months before hostilities began in March 2003, the Sunday Times reported, citing the BBC program, which is due to be aired later in the day.

After attending a briefing in Washington, he told the meeting that war was "inevitable", according to the newspaper.

"The facts and intelligence" were being "fixed round the policy" by US President George Bush's administration, Dearlove said.

The allegations against Blair just weeks before an expected general election are likely to reopen a feud between the Government and the British broadcaster.

The two fell out last year over allegations by a BBC reporter that Britain "sexed up" the case for war.

The documentary argues that Blair had signed up to follow Bush's plans for regime change in Iraq as early as April 2002, the Sunday Times said.

Robin Cook, Britain's former foreign secretary who resigned as leader of the House of Commons over Iraq, claimed that the threat of weapons of mass destruction was not the prime minister's true reason for going to war.

"What was propelling the prime minister was a determination that he would be the closest ally to George Bush and they would prove to the United States administration that Britain was their closest ally," Cook tells the program.

"His problem is that George Bush's motivation was regime change. It was not disarmament. Tony Blair knew perfectly well what he was doing.

"His problem was that he could not be honest about that with either the British people or Labour MPs, hence the stress on disarmament."

The documentary, on BBC's Panorama, (Click here to view transcript of the programme) comes one day after tens of thousands of protesters marched through the centre of London demanding that Blair pull British troops out of Iraq and warning against any more "Bush wars".

Meanwhile, Tony Blair faced another challenger in Britain's upcoming elections after the father of a military policeman killed in Iraq pledged to stand against him.

Reg Keys, 52, said he would battle Blair in the prime minister's constituency of Sedgefield, northern England, as part of a campaign for justice after the death of his son, Tom, in June 2003.

"This isn't a publicity stunt, it's a serious full blown political campaign to take the fight to Tony Blair's doorstep," Keys, who took part in a huge anti-war protest march in London today, told the domestic Press Association.

"There will be crackpots standing as independents but I shouldn't be confused with them. I want to make him accountable for his actions in taking us to war," said Keys.

The former paramedic from Wales said he would travel to Sedgefield on Monday.

"I have got to be confident about this. My full intention is to remove Tony Blair from his seat in Sedgefield and I have to believe I can do that," he said.

"It will be a David and Goliath fight, but Goliath was a Philistine and I think that word sums up my opponent."

Keys' son Lance Corporal Tom, 20, was one of six military policemen killed by an Iraqi mob as they manned a small police station on June 24, 2003.

The bereaved father told AFP at the London rally earlier today that he was demonstrating against government lies.

"I stand here a betrayed man by my government who lied to me about the need to send my son to war," he said.

Keys' challenge echoes a pledge by a former British spy to stand against Blair in his constituency. David Shayler has lambasted the Prime Minister for his "illegal invasion of Iraq".

Shayler, who first made headlines in 1997 as a whistleblower after he disclosed secret MI5 documents to a British newspaper, said he would campaign for Blair's seat.

Shayler told The Guardian newspaper yesterday that he would challenge Blair's credibility and ability to lead "in the light of his lies over the war".

"If Blair were an American or French president, the electorate would have a chance to remove him from power," said Shayler.

"As things stand in Britain's increasingly undemocratic society, only the people of Sedgefield have the opportunity to vote him out of power."

The ex-secret agent, who was served time in prison for breaking the Official Secrets Act with his disclosure to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, said he would neither be representing the left nor the right.

A general election is widely expected to be called for May 5.

A survey for the Sunday Times newspaper today revealed Labour had a five-point lead over the main opposition Conservative Party. The YouGov survey put Labour comfortably in the lead on 37 per cent of the vote, followed by the Conservatives with 32 per cent and the smaller Liberal Democrats on 23 per cent.

AFP

Copyright 2005. The Sydney Morning Herald.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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