`Murdoch urged Blair not to delay Iraq invasion`

Alastair Campbell says Tony Blair was left puzzled by Rupert Murdoch`s clumsy efforts to pressure the UK into backing Iraq invasion.

Updated: Jun 16, 2012, 10:58 AM IST

London: Tony Blair`s ex-communications director says the British leader was left puzzled by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch`s clumsy efforts to pressure Britain into backing the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

In excerpts of the latest volume of his diaries published on Friday by The Guardian newspaper, Alastair Campbell writes that Blair believed Murdoch`s intervention was prompted by the White House and an example of "over-crude diplomacy”.

Giving evidence to Britain`s media ethics enquiry last month, Blair acknowledged Murdoch called him three times in the run up to the war.

Campbell`s diary recalls Murdoch calling Blair a week before a key House of Commons vote on joining the US invasion, warning over the dangers of delaying the start of conflict.

Blair felt "the Murdoch call was odd, not very clever”, Campbell wrote.