A petition demanding that Tony Blair be stripped of his knighthood reached its goal of one million signatures today.
The petition, set up by former soldier Angus Scott at New Year, claims that the former Labour Prime Minister had been the cause of ‘irreparable damage’ to the constitution of the United Kingdom – and ‘the very fabric of the nation’s society’.
Sir Tony has been made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter – the most senior form of knighthood, which has been bestowed upon all bar one of his predecessors in the Queen’s reign.
The Change.org petition, which accuses Sir Tony of being ‘personally responsible’ for the death of ‘countless’ civilians and servicemen, hit the one million signature benchmark just after 4.30pm today.
But unlike the New Year’s Honours list, which is drawn up by the Government for the Queen’s approval, the Order of the Garter is bestowed as a personal gift by the monarch herself.
The Honours Forfeiture Committee, which can remove honours for those involved in scandals, cannot recommend the removal of knighthoods handed out in this way.
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
Among those to back the petition was the mother of a teenage soldier killed in Iraq.
Gordon Gentle, 19, was serving as a Royal Highland Fusilier in 2004 after Blair sent UK troops there the previous year.
His mother Rose Gentle, 58, slept in a tent outside Downing Street in a bid to get answers from Blair and believes she was snubbed by the then-PM.
Gordon, from Pollok, died when a bomb planted by the side of a road in Basra detonated as his Land Rover passed.
Four years later a Coroner ruled that an Army logistics failure meant that electronic jamming equipment which should have been fitted to Gordon’s vehicle would probably have prevented the explosion.
Mrs Gentle said: ‘I feel this is a slap in the face for me and all the families who lost someone in Iraq.
‘What did our sons’ lives mean? The families’ sacrifices mean nothing to Blair.’
She added: ‘This has got to be stopped. I don’t see why he should have this honour – for what? Taking our boys? And now the current Labour leader has come out in support.
‘I have added my name to the petition and will be contacting my local MPs and MSPs to have this raised at both parliaments.’
And victims of IRA atrocities condemned Mr Blair’s knighthood over his secret deal to provide ‘get out of jail free’ cards to almost 200 suspected terrorists.
The petition, which accuses Sir Tony of being ‘personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen’, calls for the honour to be removed
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.
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.’
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’.
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.
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.
‘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.’
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
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.