Responding to Alastair Campbell's earlier comments, the Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "Why on earth would Rupert Murdoch ring Tony Blair three times in the week before the invasion of Iraq if he was not trying to influence the British prime minister?
"Mr Murdoch's intervention was clearly designed to steer Tony Blair in the direction of those in the United States, including [US President] Bush, who were determined to take action against Saddam Hussein and to ignore illegality."
Alastair Campbell has told the BBC's Today programme that Tony Blair's views on Iraq were well known and that Rupert Murdoch did not influence them. He said:
I wasn't listening to the call but I do record Tony Blair's mild irritation and our feeling that this was just part of pressure ... I don't think there is a single person in the world who was not aware of what Tony Blair's view was on Iraq and how much his determination was to ensure that Saddam Hussein was dealt with ... I don't think you can say this was Rupert Murdoch saying 'hey Tony, you've got to go to war'. I think that really does overstate it.
It is ... evidence of the extraordinary topicality and controversy of the Murdoch brand that out of 700 pages of a book covering the momentous period from 9/11 to the Iraq War, The Guardian should lead their coverage on a very short entry about this phone call.
He also writes that Mr Murdoch's comments were "nothing inappropriate".
There was actually nothing inappropriate in what he [Rupert Murdoch] said. He was clearly wanting to signal support, and given TB’s [Tony Blair's] views on Iraq, and his determination to deal with Saddam absolute, it is really pushing it to suggest this call contradicts Murdoch’s statement that he ‘never asked a Prime Minister for anything.’ TB was clearly irritated though, and we did feel the arguments were those coming at us in all directions from the US Administration.
It is complete rubbish to suggest that Rupert Murdoch lobbied Mr Blair over the Iraq war on behalf of the US Republicans. Furthermore, there isn't even any evidence in Alastair Campbell's diaries to support such a ridiculous claim.
On March 11 2003 in his book Burden of Power, Countdown to Iraq, which is being serialised by The Guardian, Campbell wrote: "(Tony Blair) took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc.
"Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got."
The following day he added: "TB felt the Murdoch call was odd, not very clever."
Mr Campbell claims in 2002 Downing Street believed the then chancellor Gordon Brown was "hell-bent on TB's destruction" as a result of his behind-the-scenes manoeuvring.
The former No 10 communications director also suggests that his former boss believed the Prince of Wales had been "captured by a few very right-wing people", following the publication of leaked letters he wrote about a US-style compensation culture in 2002.