Former London Major Ken Livingston accused Tony Blair of being responsible for the 7/7 London bombings in which 52 people died on 7th July 2005.
Speaking on BBC’s Question Time program, the former mayor said the then prime minister ignored a security service warning that invading Iraq would make the UK a terror target, putting civilian lives at risk.
Mr Livingstone 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 went on: “If we had not invaded Iraq those four men would not have gone out and killed 52 Londoners. We know that.”
Blair supporting MP’s immediately jumped to Tony Blair’s defence, with Labour MP Mike Gapes calling Livingstone’s comment “despicable”, and Labour backbencher Ian Austin dubbing it a “disgrace”.
Despicable Livingstone has sunk to a new low. Terrorism never the fault of perpetrators. It’s always Blairs fault. https://t.co/qcXmOLFdvK
— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) November 27, 2015
Ken Livingstone just blamed Tony Blair for London bombings. Total disgrace. The people responsible are the terrorists. I think it’s shameful
— Ian Austin (@IanAustinMP) November 26, 2015
BBC News reports:
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”.
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.