Outrage as Blair aide who brokered deal that took us into Iraq war gets New Year Honours gong (even though Chilcot STILL hasn't reported)
- Sir David Manning helped Tony Blair forge secret pact with George Bush
- The 65-year-old is made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
- Honour comes as he faces prospect of criticism in delayed Chilcot report into 2003 war in Iraq
- He was among 1,164 people recognised by today’s New Year’s Honours
- Fiona Woolf, who stood down from Government’s child abuse inquiry, becomes a dame
- Cressida Dick, policewoman in charge when Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead, is made a CBE
Tony Blair’s key aide who helped him forge a secret pact with George Bush to wage war in Iraq receives a top honour today.
Sir David Manning, who was Mr Blair’s foreign policy adviser and is now an aide to Prince William, is made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
The honour comes as Sir David faces the prospect of stern criticism in the delayed Chilcot report into the 2003 war.
Eve of war: Sir David Manning (circled left) with then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, President George Bush and Tony Blair in 2002
He was among 1,164 people recognised by today’s New Year’s Honours, but he is not the only controversial figure to feature in the list.
Fiona Woolf – who stood down from the Government’s child abuse inquiry – becomes a dame, and Cressida Dick, the policewoman in charge when Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead, is made a CBE.
Sir David was at Mr Blair’s side in the run-up to the Iraq War. He gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry of meetings he had attended, in which President Bush and the Labour prime minister drew up secret plans for the invasion nine months before the outbreak of war.
Friends of Sir David, who went on to be British ambassador to the US, have expressed concern that Chilcot will savage him – as well as Mr Blair – in the long-awaited report.
The adviser attended crucial meetings between Mr Blair and Mr Bush in June 2002 and January 2003 as they plotted how to launch a war in the face of public opinion against it.
After the first of those meetings, in July 2002, he hand-delivered to Condoleezza Rice, then US Secretary of State, a personal letter from Mr Blair to Mr Bush – described by critics as offering a ‘blank cheque’ to the US president.
Sir David faces the prospect of stern criticism in the delayed Chilcot report into the 2003 war
The letter has since ‘gone missing’ from the official presidential library, but is said to have begun with the words: ‘You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I’m with you.’
Sir David also wrote a now notorious secret memo after the January 2003 meeting which showed the US invasion of Iraq would definitely go ahead with or without UN support.
It was especially controversial because it discussed ways of provoking Saddam Hussein into a confrontation to justify war – and showed that Mr Blair was prepared to support the invasion regardless of whether or not UN inspectors discovered weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Blair had assured Parliament that the Iraqi leader would be given a final chance to disarm.
However, Sir David did tell Chilcot he thought Britain should not have gone to war without a second UN resolution and that weapons inspectors should have been ‘given longer’ to search for weapons of mass destruction.
Former Lib Dem minister Norman Baker said: ‘We don’t yet know what the Chilcot report will say but it would seem generally sensible not to give out top honours to people who may or may not be criticised by it.’
Educated at Ardingly College and Oriel College, Oxford, Sir David, 65, was a career diplomat who served in Warsaw, Paris, Tel Aviv, Moscow and Nato headquarters before being personally selected by Tony Blair to replace Sir Christopher Meyer as British ambassador in Washington in 2003.
Sir David, who was originally knighted in 2008 for his diplomatic work, has now been elevated to the Royal Victorian Order after working unpaid for William, Kate and Harry’s household for more than five years.
He was appointed to the job in 2009, with his wealth of experience on the international stage, and accompanies them on overseas tours advising on foreign policy.
The Royal Victorian Order is given by the Queen to people who have served the monarchy in a personal way. It is bestowed independently of Number 10 Downing Street. Last night a caretaker at Sir David’s £6million Chelsea townhouse said he was out of the country and unavailable for comment.
Sir David attended crucial meetings between Mr Blair (right) and Mr Bush (left) in June 2002 and January 2003