Tony Blair accused of being ‘war criminal’ by protester at Leveson Inquiry

15:50 28 May 2012

Former prime minister Tony Blair arrives to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards. Photo: Max Nash/PA Wire

Former prime minister Tony Blair arrives to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards. Photo: Max Nash/PA Wire

The Leveson Inquiry into press standards was interrupted today when a protester burst in as former prime minister Tony Blair was giving evidence and yelled “this man should be arrested for war crimes.”

The protester, who told reporters his name was David Lawley Wakelin, managed to evade security and access the court room through a secure corridor.

The 49-year-old, who said he was from the Alternative Iraq Enquiry, brought proceedings to a halt by hurling accusations at the former Prime Minister.

He was eventually wrestled to the ground by three men and ejected from the court room before being arrested.

Lord Justice Leveson called for an immediate inquiry into how he had got in.

The protester was escorted through the Royal Courts of Justice by security guards and was seen being driven away in a police van.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “He has been arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace.

“He’s currently in custody at a central London police station.”

During his evidence Mr Blair today defended his relationship with Rupert Murdoch, insisting he had never done a deal with the media mogul and claiming they only grew close after he quit Downing Street.

The former prime minister, who is godfather to one of Mr Murdoch’s children, told the Leveson Inquiry they had simply had a “working relationship” until after 2007.

Mr Blair said he had been in a powerful position, as prime minister, and Mr Murdoch had been in a powerful position as boss of a media empire.

“It was a relationship about power,” said Mr Blair. “I find these relationships are not personal, they are working, to me.”

Asked about his relationship with former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, Mr Blair was in qualified agreement with Ms Brooks’s description of it.

She has described formal, informal and social meetings with him and called him “a constant presence in my life for many years”.

Asked if he thought this was accurate, Mr Blair replied: “Yeah, if I take the whole of the relationship within government, but then I think I would say that about most of the senior political media people.”

He confirmed Ms Brooks had had access to him whenever she wanted it but stressed that all prime ministers would almost certainly have seen “media managing” as a major part of the job.

He never changed his policies to please the Murdoch press, he insisted, and had stuck to what he believed in on issues ranging from the trade unions to Europe.

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