Foreign Office challenging ICO over Blair/Bush Iraq War call release
29 March 2012
By Joel Shenton
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is fighting calls to release details of a 2003 phone call between Tony Blair and George Bush which was made just seven days before the Iraq War began.
The FCO is contesting an order made by the Information Commissioner which calls for details of the 12 March 2003 phone call between the then-Prime Minister and the former US President to be released due to the "gravity and controversy" of the decision to go to war a week later.
Details of the call were recorded in one of six documents requested by a member of the public under the Freedom of Information Act.
The remaining five documents have already been released, and some – including details of a call between Blair and then French President Jacques Chirac –have been made available via the Iraq Inquiry's website.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is calling for Blair's comments to be made public, with details of Bush's words and US opinions left out of any released document.
The FCO is contesting Graham's September 2011 decision at an information tribunal, and is calling for a blanket ban on release, saying it would harm relations between the US and UK.
In his ruling in September last year, Graham wrote: "The commissioner considers that such was the gravity and controversy of the decision by Prime Minister Blair to commit the country to the military action taken in Iraq, then any information which might provide the public with an insight or awareness of the Prime Minister's thinking during the critical period when the decision was finalised, and its implications for the UK, carries with it a powerful and compelling public interest in disclosure."
Article first appeared on our sister site Defencemanagement.com