Toany Blair insisted today that Britain had to give up the "wretched policy of apology" for the allies' action in Iraq. But he offered the Chilcot inquiry his regrets for the loss of life in Iraq. At his appearance before the inquiry last year he was heavily criticised for not answering a question about whether he regretted the invasion.
At the end of his evidence this afternoon he said it had never been his meaning. "Of course I regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life," he said. As he extended his regrets to British and allied troops and Iraqis, there were murmurs of "too late" from the public seating behind him.
In his second appearance before the Chilcot inquiry the former prime minister repeated the warning he gave in evidence a year ago that Iran was a "looming, coming challenge" to the peace and stability of the whole region and must be tackled.
He accused the Tehran regime of fomenting terrorism and destabilising the Middle East, deliberately impeding chances of peace.
"The Iranians are doing this because they fundamentally disagree with our way of life," he said. "At some point we have got to get our head out of the sand and understand Iraq is one part of a far bigger picture right across the region. People are going to have to face that struggle."
Blair told the inquiry today that he regarded the advice of his government's attorney general that the invasion of Iraq would be illegal as only "provisional" during the run-up to the war in early 2003.
In a written statement to the inquiry and in oral evidence, he said he was entitled to ignore the advice of Lord Goldsmith and was not obliged to inform the US president, George Bush, of internal discussions taking place among legal officials in London.