Shooting the messenger once again

Extraordinary story emerging today about a document which apparently shows that Tony Blair had to talk George Bush out of bombing the broadcaster Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, a gulf state that hosts US military bases.

The memo, which also included details of troop deployments, turned up in May last year at the Northampton constituency office of then Labour MP Tony Clarke.

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh, 49, is accused under the Official Secrets Act of passing it to Leo O’Connor, 42, who used to work for Mr Clarke. Both are bailed to appear at Bow Street court next week.

Mr Clarke, who lost at the election, returned the memo to No 10.

He said Mr O’Connor had behaved "perfectly correctly". (

I met Leo O’Connor earlier this year when I interviewed Tony Clarke for the Irish World. Both men struck me as sound, salt-of-the-earth, Labour types. I’m not at all surprised that Clarke behaved with a profound (if maddening) sense of propriety, in spite of his own personal opposition to the Iraq war.

The Labour leadership responded with a total lack of support for the election campaign in Clarke’s marginal seat, compared to neighbouring constituencies.

It’s bad enough that the Iraq conflict contributed to Clarke losing his seat, but it’s infuriating to see someone like O’Connor facing the courts. It seems critics of the war in Iraq have the book thrown at them every time, while those responsible for the debacle get off scot-free.

We have already seen a Labour government lining up with Rupert Murdoch to attack the BBC. Will we now see a Labour Party worker locked up to help Tony Blair conceal the true extent of George Bush’s capacity for military aggression?






2 responses to “Shooting the messenger once again”

  1.  avatar

    “Will we now see a Labour Party worker locked up to help Tony Blair conceal the true extent of George Bush’s capacity for military aggression?”
    Huh? How about the true extent of Tony Blair’s capacity for military aggression? What amazes me is the way he’s been allowed to get away with everything in Britain. This OSA bs would never fly in the US. Compare Plamegate to the David Kelly coverup – same time, same channel, audience asleep.

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    True enough, in general, but the idea of bombing Al Jazeera seems to have been a solo run by Bush.
    I cynic might wonder whether that explains why the story has finally leaked in Britain.

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