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Tony Blair faces second round of questioning over Iraq war

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-21

Former prime minister Tony Blair appears Friday before the Iraq Inquiry public hearings in London for a second round of questioning over the decision to send 45,000 British troops as part of the 2003 invasion.

AFP - Former prime minister Tony Blair arrived Friday for his second appearance at Britain's inquiry into the 2003 Iraq war after being recalled to explain discrepancies in his earlier evidence.

Around 20 protesters holding up signs saying "Bliar" rallied outside the London conference centre where the inquiry is being held as the ex-premier arrived amid heavy security and a large police presence.

Blair is expected to be questioned on gaps in the the evidence he gave in his first appearance in January 2010 and on apparent discrepancies between his account and official documents and other witnesses' testimony.

In his highly charged appearance before the inquiry last year, Blair said he had no regrets about the toppling of Saddam Hussein and delivered a robust defence of the invasion.

He said he accepted "responsibility but not a regret for removing Saddam," insisting the Iraqi leader was a "monster" who had "threatened not just the region but the world."

Documents released ahead of the resumption of public proceedings, following a six-month break, showed the government's top legal advisor criticised Blair for publicly suggesting Britain could invade without further UN backing, despite his advice to the contrary.

Lord Peter Goldsmith, the former attorney general, was "uncomfortable" with statements Blair made before the March 2003 US-led invasion.

In January 2003, Goldsmith advised Blair that the existing United Nations Security Council resolution was not enough to justify an invasion.

The inquiry, launched in July 2009, aims to identify lessons that can be learned from the conflict, to which Britain was the second largest contributor of troops.

Blair served as Labour prime minister from 1997 to 2007.

Date created : 2011-01-21

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