Alastair Campbell accused the BBC’s Andrew Marr of pursuing an ‘agenda’after an emotional interview on BBC One yesterday.
Campbell looked close to tears and had to take a moment to compose himself at one point as Marr questioned him on Tony Blair’s false assertion about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in the run up to the war with Iraq in 2002.
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He said: ‘I don’t think people are interested in the truth any more, they are only interested in settling scores and setting their own agenda.”
Marr also pointedly asked Campbell about the 600,000 people believed to have lost their lives as a result of the Allied invasion of Iraq.
Writing on his blog later that day, Cambell said: ‘â€¦of course I had expected the kind of questions Marr put on Iraq.
“I had also been telling myself that given the history between me and the Beeb over Iraq, and Marr was central as he was their political editor at the time of the war, and a key player in the agenda they sought to set, I must not lose my temper, or reopen old wounds.
“Fair to say I just about managed it, but it was a struggle. I could certainly have done without his glib introduction, in which he sought to link the September 2002 WMD dossier with the novel, ie my ‘latest piece of fiction’.
‘But the reality is there is no question on Iraq I have not been asked many many times, and I guess it does get frustrating to be asked them again and again, knowing that most people have made up their minds one way or another.
“For years, we have been accused of lying when we know we didn’t. For inquiry after inquiry, we’ve faced perfectly legitimate questions which we have answered as best we can. I have been at four inquiries now, and though the first three cleared me of the serious allegations of wrongdoing I faced, it is never good enough for those who opposed what we did.
‘Marr claimed he had no opinion or agenda, but it was exposed in the way he casually threw in a highly disputed figure about casualties – four to five times higher than the Iraq body count accepted by most organisations as the most reliable. As to his claim that his figure was backed by the UN, that was news to me and I suspect to them.
‘Journalism is supposed to be about seeking after truth. But I really do believe now that on this issue, every aspect of which has been gone into for so long and in such detail, most of the media are no longer interested in the truth at all.
“They are interested in those parts that fit their analysis – that the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake and the consequences have been disastrousâ€¦
‘So if I appeared lost for words, it was perhaps because there is nothing more to say, and if I had said what I was really thinking about the way the media has been covering the inquiry, and the way they cover public life more generally, I might have regretted it. So I let my mind race for a while, controlled the emotions surging around, then carried on.”