UK Politics

Ken Livingstone: Tony Blair to blame for 7/7 bombings

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Media captionLivingstone 'blames Blair for 7/7'

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been criticised for suggesting Tony Blair was to blame for the deaths of 52 people in the 7 July London bombings.

Mr Livingstone said on Question Time the then-prime minister ignored a security service warning that invading Iraq would make the UK a terror target.

Labour MP Mike Gapes called the comment "despicable", while Labour backbencher Ian Austin dubbed it a "disgrace".

Four suicide bombers targeted London's Underground and a bus on 7 July 2005.

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Media captionLivingstone challenged over 7/7 claims

Mr Livingstone, who is co-chairing a review of Labour's defence policy, said: "When Tony Blair was told by the security services, 'If you go into Iraq, we will be a target for terrorism', and he ignored that advice, and it killed 52 Londoners."

He added: "If we had not invaded Iraq those four men would not have gone out and killed 52 Londoners. We know that."

Comedian and former Labour political adviser Matt Forde challenged Mr Livingstone on his comments, saying: "This idea that you can absolve the people that killed those innocent Londoners by blaming Tony Blair is shameful.

"Blame it on the people who carried out the atrocity."

'Gave their lives'

Mr Livingstone, who was mayor at the time of the 2005 attacks, responded: "Go and look what they put on their website. They did those killings because of our invasion of Iraq.

"They gave their lives, they said what they believed, they took Londoners' lives in protest against our invasion of Iraq.

"And we were lied to by Tony Blair about Iraq, there were no weapons of mass destruction."

Conservative Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock, who was also on the panel, said Mr Livingstone was letting IS and other violent militant groups "off the hook" while Kate Andrews, from the Adam Smith Institute, said he was "accepting their excuses".

A number of Labour MPs criticised the comments, John Woodcock tweeting that "no-one has the mandate to side with suicide bombers".

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Image caption The 7 July attacks on a bus and three London underground trains killed 52 people and injured hundreds more

And Mr Gapes said Mr Livingstone had "sunk to a new low", claiming his comments amounted to saying "terrorism is never the fault of perpetrators".

A Downing Street spokesman said it was up to Mr Livingstone to justify his comments, stating that "it almost goes without saying that the prime minister does not agree with them".

Mr Livingstone, who is a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, caused controversy recently when he suggested a Labour MP who had criticised his appointment as co-convenor of the party's defence review needed "psychiatric help".

He subsequently apologised for the comments but only after being told to do so by leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The UK joined the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, despite failing to secure a second UN resolution justifying the use of force.

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