IRA victims’ anger at honour for ‘Sir Tony’ Blair: Former Prime Minister is slammed over his secret deal to provide ‘effective amnesty to murderers’ as part of Northern Ireland peace talks
- Sir Tony Blair’s knighthood in New Year honours list has sparked huge backlash
- Petition demanding former PM be stripped of honour hit 900,000 signatures
- Victims of IRA atrocities today joined disapproval over ‘effective amnesty to murderers and bombers’ provided by Blair’s 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal
- Lord Tebbit, who was injured by IRA bomb said agreement should ‘demerit him from any honours’
Victims of IRA atrocities condemned Tony Blair’s knighthood yesterday over his secret deal to provide ‘get out of jail free’ cards to almost 200 suspected terrorists.
Families torn apart by Republican attacks hit out at the former prime minister for ‘providing an effective amnesty to murderers and bombers’ as part of the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal.
Tory grandee Lord Tebbit, who was severely injured in an IRA bomb attack during the 1984 Conservative Party conference, said Sir Tony’s agreement to release terrorists early and provide immunity to others should ‘demerit him from any honours’.
It came as a petition demanding that Sir Tony is stripped of the honour – announced at New Year – passed 900,000 signatures.
While the former PM’s involvement in the Good Friday Agreement has been lauded for bringing an end to 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, victims of terrorist attacks have criticised concessions he was forced to make to Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA.
Families torn apart by IRA attacks hit out at former prime minister Sir Tony Blair for ‘providing effective amnesty to murderers and bombers’ as part of the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal. The criticism comes after Sir Tony was honoured with a knighthood
Tory grandee Lord Tebbit, who was severely injured in an IRA bomb attack during the 1984 Conservative Party conference, said Sir Tony’s agreement to release terrorists early and provide immunity to others should ‘demerit him from any honours’
Mark Tipper’s brother, Trooper Simon Tipper, was one of four soldiers from the Blues and Royals killed by an IRA bomb at Hyde Park in 1982.
Chief suspect John Downey walked free from the Old Bailey in 2014 when he produced an ‘on-the-run’ letter issued in secret by Sir Tony’s government to at least 187 fugitives.
The controversial documents, also called ‘comfort letters’, told those accused of serious crimes including murder and terrorism that they were no longer ‘wanted’. In 2019, a civil court found Downey was an ‘active participant’ in the bombing.
Mr Tipper said: ‘The on-the-run letters were beyond belief, to give terrorists a get out of jail free card, which is what it was. The terrorists got away but we as victims have to live with it for the rest of our lives. It wasn’t until 2019 that we got the justice we deserved.
Mark Tipper (right), the brother of Trooper Simon Tipper (left) who killed by an IRA bomb at Hyde Park in 1982, said he ‘despised’ Sir Tony for issuing secret ‘on-the-run’ letters which effectively ‘gave terrorists a get out of jail free card’
Trooper Simon Tipper, was among the four soldiers from the Blues and Royals and seven horses killed by an IRA bomb at Hyde Park in 1982 as they rode through central London to attend the Changing of the Guard
‘Blair has a lot of families to answer to who he left hurt because of the decisions he thought were right. I think they were only to suit his legacy. I despise Blair for what he has done. A knighthood? Not for me.’ In 2015 Sir Tony apologised for Downey’s letter.
Lord Tebbit’s late wife Margaret was left paralysed from the chest down following the 1984 assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet.
The 90-year-old peer said: ‘The result of the Good Friday Agreement was terrorists getting out of jail free, while for years afterwards soldiers who were seeking to deal with terrorists have been put on trial.’
Ex-soldier behind the petition on way to 1m signatures
By Andrew Levy
The former soldier whose petition calling for Tony Blair to be stripped of his knighthood said he had to take action against someone who took Britain to war using ‘lies and deceit’.
Angus Scott, 55, said it was a ‘kick in the teeth’ when he heard the former PM was to receive the honour.
He warned it sent a ‘terrible message’ when someone who ‘should have been held to account’ for the conflict in Iraq was rewarded instead.
The committed royalist said it was particularly painful that the knighthood had been the personal gift of the Queen, to whom he had sworn an oath of loyalty in the Territorial Army.
Mr Scott, who now works as a voice artist, said Sir Tony ‘sent people to their deaths on a false premise’.
‘I thought I might get a hundred signatures,’ he added. ‘I was astounded when it went viral.’
Five people were killed in the attack at The Grand Hotel, Brighton. Bomber Patrick Magee was freed early from prison in 1999 having served 14 years, despite a legal challenge by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw.
Lord Tebbit added: ‘I did not see how it was possible for a reasonable-minded man to come to the conclusion that he should have been released.’
Victims campaigner Alex Bunting, who lost a leg in 1991 when an IRA bomb detonated in his taxi described Sir Tony’s knighthood as ‘absolutely disgusting’.
While the former PM had played a major role in the peace deal, his decision to provide ‘amnesties’ was ‘the start of a slippery slope’, he said.
SAS hero Robin Horsfall, 64, one of the elite soldiers to storm the Iranian Embassy in 1980, revealed he mobilised his veterans’ following of over 200,000 on social media to sign the petition.
But crossbench peer Lord Kilclooney, a former Ulster Unionist Party MP who was seriously injured in a 1972 Official IRA assassination attempt, backed Sir Tony’s honour.
He said: ‘I worked closely with Tony in preparation for the Belfast Agreement and I have nothing but admiration for his time and effort in getting devolution restored to Northern Ireland. His knighthood is well deserved.’
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also took a swipe, sharing a link to the Daily Mail’s revelation that Sir Tony’s defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, said he was ordered to burn a memo warning that invading Iraq could be illegal.
Mr Corbyn wrote: ‘This underlines once more what a disastrous act of aggression the war on Iraq was.’
A YouGov survey conducted on Tuesday found that 63 per cent of Britons disapprove of the knighthood while 14 per cent approve.
Fresh outcry over Tony Blair’s links to Kazakhstan’s ruling regime amid deadly protests over fuel prices
ByVanessa Allen for the Daily Mail
Amid deadly protests in Kazakhstan yesterday, Tony Blair faced renewed scrutiny over his dealings with the country’s regime.
Street battles have gripped Kazakhstan after demonstrations over fuel prices escalated into violent clashes between protesters and police.
Much of the anger was directed at former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled over Kazakhstan for three decades until 2019, and who continued to wield immense power after he stepped down as president.
His authoritarian regime faced international criticism for human rights abuses and in 2011 Sir Tony’s consulting business Tony Blair Associates (TBA) took on a contract to advise the Kazakh government.
Amid deadly protests in Kazakhstan yesterday, Tony Blair faced renewed scrutiny over his dealings with the country’s regime. Pictured: Then-PM Blair meets Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev at Downing St in 2006
The controversial deal saw Sir Tony face accusations that he had helped Mr Nazarbayev to ‘spin’ a massacre which saw security forces kill at least 14 during a protest over wages.
The former British prime minister advised the Kazakh leader on how to deal with questions from the Western media about the 2011 shootings, and suggested passages to be inserted into a speech Mr Nazarbayev was giving at Cambridge University in 2012.
In a letter, he said: ‘These events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made.’
After the letter was leaked, opposition groups in Kazakhstan said Sir Tony had ‘blood on his hands’ for helping the regime to whitewash the killings.
Street battles have gripped Kazakhstan after demonstrations over fuel prices escalated into violent clashes between protesters and police
The TBA deal with Kazakhstan operated for five years and by the end the consultancy firm was seeking more than £5million-a-year for its services.
Author and historian Mark Almond tweeted: ‘Kazakhstan’s current protests should remind us that the new-coined chevalier of human rights, Tony Blair, helped the regime to cover up repression there in the past.’
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘He has been an adviser to numerous leaders around the world who would be considered repressive. It is one of the factors that has made his knighthood so contentious.’
Sir Tony has always denied receiving money to ‘whitewash’ Kazakhstan’s human rights record, and insisted he was advising on political reforms and governance, and was not profiting personally.
In 2016, he announced he had wound down his commercial operations. But as recently as 2020 Sir Tony appeared in a video praising Mr Nazarbayev for his leadership. A spokesman said he was speaking in a personal capacity and had not been paid.
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