Murdoch  Campbell  Blair, Tony

Campbell's diaries tell how Rupert Murdoch 'tried to rush Blair into Iraq War'

By Geri Peev

PUBLISHED: 01:24, 16 June 2012

Friendship: Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch pictured in 2008

Friendship: Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch pictured in 2008

Rupert Murdoch launched an ‘over-crude’ and ‘not very clever’ attempt to rush Tony Blair into backing the war on Iraq just days before a crucial Commons’ vote, it was claimed last night.

The media baron phoned the then  prime minister in March 2003, warning him of the dangers of a delay in invading Iraq, according to the final volumes of Alastair Campbell’s diaries, the Burden of Power, Countdown to Iraq.

Claims by the former spin-doctor that Mr Murdoch was lobbying on behalf of George Bush’s Republicans will raise questions about Mr Murdoch’s evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

Mr Murdoch had insisted he never tried to influence any prime minister.

He had told the Leveson Inquiry that there was no secret that News International supported the Iraq War and that his views were known long before  the conflict began.

The billionaire also told the judge-led panel in April: ‘I’ve never asked a prime minister for anything.’

John Major cast doubts on Mr  Murdoch’s claims, however, telling the inquiry he had been told to change his policies on Europe or face a withdrawal of support from News International before the 1997 election.

Mr Campbell wrote in his diaries, to be serialised in the Guardian, that on March 11, 2003, Mr Murdoch tried to persuade Mr Blair to hurry and back the invasion of Iraq.

He said Mr Blair ‘took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us etc.

‘Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got.

Alastair Campbell makes the claim in the final volumes of his controversial Diaries

Alastair Campbell makes the claim in the final volumes of his controversial Diaries

Mr Campbell added the following day that: ‘TB felt the Murdoch call was odd, not very clever.’  The diaries also said that Gordon Brown was plotting so aggressively against Mr Blair that Downing Street concluded in 2002 that he was ‘hell-bent on TB’s destruction’.

Mr Blair had considered sacking his Chancellor but did not  do it because ‘when it comes to ability, he and I are head and shoulders above the rest’.

Mr Campbell disclosed that the PM had been told by his Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, that Mr Brown and his aide, Ed Balls, had been urging Labour MPs to vote down foundation hospitals.

The claim will raise questions about Mr Brown’s insistence before the Leveson Inquiry that neither he nor his allies had briefed against Mr Blair.

Mr Blair also believed that the Prince Charles had been ‘captured by a few very Right-wing people’.

His claim came after the Daily Mail published leaked letters from the Prince about a compensation culture in 2002.

Mr Blair ‘liked, rated and respected’ the Queen but thought Prince Charles had a ‘dig’ at the Labour government during a speech for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.