Belfast Telegraph

Nolan goes to war after Col Tim Collins brands him a 'shock jock' in on-air spat over Chilcot

Presenter meets his match after RIR hero urges him to 'calm down' during phone-in

By Claire Williamson

Whatever you do, don't call him a "shock jock".

Stephen Nolan launched an angry tirade against a war hero who used the phrase to describe him on his programme while discussing the Chilcot report.

Belfast-born commander Colonel Tim Collins led the Royal Irish Regiment into Iraq in March 2003.

He was speaking on the Stephen Nolan show yesterday morning after the long-awaited Iraq Inquiry found that Mr Blair's government presented evidence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction "with a certainty that was not justified" and troops were sent in before all peaceful options had been exhausted.

Presenting a summary of his inquiry's findings, Sir John Chilcot strongly hit out at the "wholly inadequate" planning for the period after the fall of Saddam, which saw many British troops involved in a prolonged and bloody occupation.

Col Collins had already told the Belfast Telegraph that the Chilcot report was more candid than he had expected, but that its contents had not surprised him.

On the Nolan Show, Col Collins was asked about some of the coverage that had featured on the news following the publication of the report.

Nolan highlighted one line that had been reported: "Tony Blair is one of the worst terrorists in the world".

To which Col Collins said: "I know you are a shock jock, but you just have to calm down. That (comment) came from someone who lost someone.

"Of course he's (Tony Blair) not the worst terrorist in the world. You can think of a hundred more.

"You can't take what someone who is highly emotional, having lost someone in conflict, (is saying) and start bashing them over the head.

"You can, but I don't think that's the best thing to do."

But Nolan blasted the colonel, saying that he was "deeply offended" at being called a shock jock. He said: "Tim I've done a few interviews with you. But when I'm talking about war, I understand as well as you do. So do not, sir, suggest I'm doing this in order to be a shock jock.

"I find it deeply offensive that you've said that. You are wrong and you should not have said it. Now I'll move on.

"I'm trying to put questions to you that I think are journalistically appropriate, full stop.

"And don't bring this down to some kind of base level, because I find it offensive."

Nolan then moved on with the debate in which Col Collins and former Royal Irish captain Doug Beattie described how woefully under-prepared the military was for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.Mr Beattie has been scathing of Mr Blair's handling of the decision to invade Iraq in the wake of the Chilcot report.

"It may well be he was actually drunk on his self-importance," he said earlier this week.

"Having had successes in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, and having brokered the Good Friday Agreement, he genuinely believed he could do no wrong. He is clearly not going to apologise, and I think that if I was his solicitor, I would caution (him) against doing that because I would say that this is by no means over. This is just the beginning of it."

Col Collins noted that the report had revealed that diplomatic options had not been exhausted before the war.

"But as Chilcot said, there were other options not fully explored, so those should have been exhausted before going to war," he added. "War should be the very last resort."

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