Private letters between Tony Blair and President George W Bush ahead of the war in Iraq were kept so secret that they did not officially exist.
A request by the Iraq Inquiry to publish the correspondence was rejected this week – even though both leaders have discussed their contents extensively in their recent memoirs.
A transcript of evidence given behind closed doors by Matthew Rycroft, the former prime minister’s private secretary, and released by the inquiry yesterday shows that references to the notes, sent in the year running up to the March 2003 invasion, were removed from official records.
He told the inquiry that Mr Blair considered the letters to be part of a “personal dialogue” and so he deleted references to them from minutes of phone calls between the leaders.
Sir John Chilcot, the Inquiry chairman, has expressed his “disappointment” that his request to declassify the letters, along with notes taken of meetings between the two, was rejected.
He pointed out that both leaders, and former Downing Street aides Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell, had referred to them in recent memoirs and diaries.
– Details from Blair’s Iraq calls were deleted (Independent):
Mr Blair’s private secretary at No 10 routinely deleted any mention of his correspondence with Mr Bush from the Government minutes, the inquiry has found out. The disclosure will fuel anger over the failure to release the memos between the two leaders in the run-up to war, which could fill in gaps for when Mr Blair took key decisions over the war. David Cameron, challenged over the refusal to publish the memos, said that he was powerless to order
Mr Blair’s then private secretary, Matthew Rycroft, has recalled that Mr Bush often began telephones calls or video conferences in 2002 and 2003 by thanking the former prime minister for his letters.
Mr Rycroft said that he drew up two accounts of the conversations, omitting any reference to them in the Whitehall record because Mr Blair viewed them as “personal dialogue”. He told the inquiry: “I do recall doing it on a number of occasions. I would have thought possibly about five occasions and each time for a particular reason.
“I recall the choice I had was either only doing an expurgated version or doing two versions, and so on these occasions I decided it was better to do two versions.” Mr Rycroft said Mr Blair had always been clear that Britain would support US military action.
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… and war criminal (GENOCIDE):
Inhaled or ingested DU particles are highly toxic, and DU has been classified as an illegal weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
“More than ten times the amount of radiation released during atmospheric testing [of nuclear bombs] has been released from DU weaponry since 1991,” said Leuren Moret, a U.S. nuclear scientist. “The genetic future of the Iraqi people, for the most part, is destroyed. The environment now is completely radioactive.”
“Because DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the Middle East will, for all practical purposes, be radioactive forever.”