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Protests as Blair appears at Iraq inquiry

By Bryony Jones, CNN
  • Protesters shouted "Blair to the Hague" and "Tony Blair is a liar"
  • Activists staged mock arrests in front of inquiry venue
  • Former PM Tony Blair is giving evidence over the Iraq War for the second time

London (CNN) -- Protesters dressed in Tony Blair masks staged mock arrests as the former British Prime Minister appeared before an inquiry into the Iraq War.

Scores of anti-war campaigners gathered in central London early on Friday as Blair was recalled to give more evidence to the investigation over the circumstances leading up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Waving banners featuring bloody images of the carnage that followed, activists shouted: "Blair lied -- thousands died" and "Justice prevail -- Blair in jail".

Blair: Islamic extremism must be confronted

Having traveled from across the UK, and as far afield as Italy, the demonstrators were keen to make their voices heard inside the inquiry venue.

Some were escorted away from the road outside by police after pretending to seize men dressed in Blair masks on suspicion of war crimes.

The "Blair clones" were handcuffed and placed in a mock jail cell overlooking the scene as press photographers and cameramen clamored for shots.

Blair under fire for Iraq War

Other seasoned protesters gave speeches calling for the ex-PM to be called to account for his involvement in the war.

Bruce Kent, of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said Tony Blair had "put two fingers up" to the U.N. and its efforts to stave off war.

"Tony Blair must know by this stage that the game is up. He's got to live with what he's done for the rest of his life," he said.

Actor Roger Lloyd Pack, best known for his role in TV comedy Only Fools and Horses, said it was unfortunate that the inquiry was being held so long after the war began.

"A lot of the outrage we all felt at the time has dissipated into stale contempt, but the consequences of the war are with us every day.

"From suicide bombings to... airport security, global life is permeated by the effects of this war," he said.

"Tony Blair lied," said campaigner John Howsam, 69, from Northampton. "He lied to the government, he lied to the people of this country to get the vote to attack Iraq, and thousands of people -- women and children -- died.

"He can't get away with it."

A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said organizers were pleased with the protest turnout, but said he did not expect much from the inquiry.

"It has been hobbled from the start by its remit, its terms of reference," said Chris Nineham.

"It is not allowed to instruct people to attend, or to force them to release documents, and it is ignoring the issue of whether the war was legal or illegal, which is the question most people want answered.

"We don't have a huge amount of confidence in it, but we have to keep the pressure up."