British Prime Minister Tony Blair's closest adviser and a major player in the government's Iraq policy says he will be leaving soon. Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's chief spokesman and strategist, says he has had enough. Alastair Campbell, the powerful and influential communications director for Prime Minister Tony Blair, is at the center of media allegations that the government exaggerated intelligence about the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
He was a key witness last week in a judicial inquiry looking into the death of leading weapons expert, Dr. David Kelly, who was revealed as the source of information that the intelligence report on Iraqi weapons was manipulated by the prime minister's office. Mr. Blair testified on Thursday and denied such claims.
Mr. Campbell says his departure has nothing to do with the ongoing inquest, but the timing has surprised many, including ruling Labor Party politician Glenda Jackson. She says many questions remain unanswered about how much influence he had over the re-writing of the Iraqi weapons report that underlies the government's decision to go to war.
"We have yet to see the conclusions of the Hutton inquiry and there have already been raised that fact that Mr. Campbell, in discussing the changes he had suggested for the September dossier, had forgotten the number of changes that he had suggested and that had been accepted," said Ms. Jackson. "And I think there are still many questions surrounding all those issues."
Opposition Conservative Party politician Richard Ottaway, a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, says he believes Mr. Campbell wants to get out before the judicial inquiry delivers its final assessment, which could be damaging to him.
"The evidence has been streaming out in recent days over what had actually happened in the preparation of the case for war and it must have been greeted with dismay by these people in Number 10 [10 Downing Street, the prime minister's Office]," said Mr. Ottaway. "And so, they will be looking at this and saying frankly, the game is up. And, quite clearly, Alastair Campbell thought it better to get out of it before parliament reconvenes next week, week after next."
Mr. Campbell, who is a former journalist, says he wants to write, broadcast and make speeches when he departs in a few weeks.