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Time to end the unfair vilification of Tony

Published 11/07/2016

The latest news regarding the Chilcot Inquiry and former Prime Minister Tony Blair concerning his role in the war in Iraq has also been a war of words - some 2.6 million of them, apparently.

For seven years Mr Blair has had to put up with a most hostile level of Blair-mongering in the media, while he has had to remain silent until the report was concluded - a situation endured by his good friend Sir Cliff Richard, who also had to keep schtum until exonerated.

It was good to see Mr Blair speaking out at last in his own words, extremely sensitive about the people who were killed, yet pointing out the difficult position he was in.

No doubt there will always be people who continue to vilify Mr Blair, like those heard on the TV news reports who shouted "war criminal", brandishing placards with the word 'Bliar' on them, or citing him as 'the world's worst terrorist'.

I had the privilege to prepare food for Mr Blair when he was Prime Minister along with Israeli counterpart Binyamin Netanyahu in 2002, when he was conducting peace talks in the Middle East.

Saddam Hussein was a serious threat back then and I had to have a gas mask and underground bunker along with my Israeli friends, both Jewish and Arab, when the Iraqi tyrant was threatening to send a barrage of Scud missiles and poison gas onto Tel-Aviv. He wasn't just sabre-rattling.

With the benefit of hindsight it is always easy to apportion blame, but Mr Blair has stood by his convictions and has shown integrity in the face of his detractors.

I was living in the city when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by his own people, because there were those who opposed him so vehemently for his actions, which were carried out with the intent to help an intractable situation.

I think now it's time to leave Mr Blair alone.

COLIN NEVIN

(chef, Hilton Tel-Aviv, 1991-2002)

Bangor, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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