London, June 21 (ANI): British Prime Minister Gordon Brown decided to hold the independent inquiry into the Iraq war behind the closed doors because he was urged by his predecessor Tony Blair to do so, The Observer has claimed.
Blair was reportedly afraid of a "show trial" that he dreaded the prospect of giving evidence in public and under oath about the use of intelligence and about his numerous private discussions with US President George Bush over plans for war.
The report says that Blair, who resisted pressure for a full public inquiry while he was prime minister, deliberately didn't express his view in person to Brown because he feared it might leak out.
Instead, messages on the issue were relayed through others to Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, who conveyed them to Brown in the days leading up to the announcement of the inquiry last week.
A Downing Street spokesman, however, said: "This was a decision for the current prime minister, not for Tony Blair. We have always been clear that we consulted a number of people before announcing the commencement of the inquiry, including former government figures. We are not going to get into the nature of those discussions."
The paper further claims that six weeks before the war, at a meeting in Washington, Bush and Blair were forced to contemplate alternative scenarios that might trigger a second UN resolution legitimising military action.
Bush told Blair that the US had drawn up a provocative plan "to fly U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, painted in UN colours, over Iraq with fighter cover." Bush said that if Saddam fired at the planes, he would put Iraq in breach of UN resolutions and legitimise military action.
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, whose party opposed the war from the outset, said: "If this is true about Blair demanding secrecy, it is outrageous that an inquiry into the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez is being muzzled to suit the individual needs of the man who took us to war." (ANI)