‘Blair lifted lines from my film as his mem­ory of Queen’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Tominey and James Des­bor­ough

‘Surely he didn’t say the very things that I’ve writ­ten that he’d said? Much of what I write, I’m just guess­ing’

THE writer of The Queen, the Os­car­win­ning film, has taken a swipe at Tony Blair af­ter claim­ing the for­mer prime min­is­ter quoted lines of script from scenes in the film for his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

Peter Mor­gan, a Bafta-win­ning screen­writer, said Mr Blair’s mem­ory had “sort of be­come blurred” over his rec­ol­lec­tion of con­ver­sa­tions with the Queen for his 2011 book My Jour­ney, pub­lished five years af­ter the film’s cinema re­lease.

Mor­gan, 55, who is nom­i­nated for 13 Em­mys for his work on The Crown, ac­cused Mr Blair of hav­ing a “blurred” mem­ory and took him to task over “pre­tend­ing” not to have watched the film.

Dur­ing a US ra­dio in­ter­view, he said: “There came a mo­ment af­ter the film that I wrote, The Queen, had come out where Tony Blair was asked about his au­di­ence with the Queen.

“And in his book, his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, which, of course, came out many years af­ter we made The Queen, Tony Blair, when re­fer­ring back to that crit­i­cal pe­riod in the af­ter­math of Diana’s death, used a num­ber of ex­pres­sions and quo­ta­tions that seemed to me to be very fa­mil­iar be­cause they sounded like my di­a­logue.

“And I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘Well, hang on a minute. That can’t be right’.

“That it can’t be right that I got it right. I can’t have got it that right.

“I mean, I think we were all pretty con­fi­dent we knew what Tony Blair rep­re­sented. We knew what the Queen thought.

“But surely he didn’t say the very things that I’ve writ­ten (in the script) that he’d said?”

In an in­ter­view with Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio, Mor­gan said he then tele­phoned col­leagues to check whether they had read Mr Blair’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy be­cause it “sounded very much like the scene that I wrote”.

He added: “And it seems that even Blair’s mem­ory had sort of be­come blurred with what we had done.

“And it’s both funny but also sober­ing be­cause you sud­denly re­alise that, once you watch some­thing on film, it be­comes that thing. It be­comes the way it was. And so much of what I write can’t be ex­actly the way it was be­cause I don’t know. I’m just guess­ing.

“And then for Blair, in this par­tic­u­lar in­stance, to have taken those imag­i­na­tions or guesses and to re­con­struct them as the truth was con­fus­ing in his own ac­count.

“He said, ‘I then said that’. I was like, ‘Well, you didn’t. At least, I don’t think you did. Well, if you did, what a stroke of luck on my be­half. But I’m pretty sure you’re ac­tu­ally just quot­ing what I wrote, which you have watched and which you’ve sub­se­quently de­nied that you’ve watched but which you’ve clearly watched’.”

Mr Blair’s mem­oir, A Jour­ney: My Po­lit­i­cal Life, for which he was re­port­edly paid a £4.6mil­lion ad­vance, was re­leased in 2011, five years af­ter The Queen’s re­lease.

A spokesman for Mr Blair in­sisted: “He has never watched The Queen.” The film, di­rected by Stephen Frears, starred Helen Mir­ren in the ti­tle role and Michael Sheen reprised his role as Mr Blair from The Deal.

Helen Mir­ren and Michael Sheen play the Queen and Tony Blair, pic­tured left, in The Queen

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