"Blair lied, thousands died." That was the chant which reverberated around Parliament Square on Friday as former prime minister Tony Blair gave evidence to the Iraq inquiry.
Even from the safety of the Queen Elizabeth II centre, where he had been spirited by his security detail hours before the inquiry was due to start, Mr Blair could not have failed to hear the fury of the hundreds of protesters who thronged the square throughout the morning.
In a not unexpected move Mr Blair entered the inquiry, apparently through a back door, at around 7.30am, thus cheating the protesters who had travelled the length and breadth of the country for a chance to confront him face to face.
Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German told the Star: "Blair went in through the back door. That is typical of him, all deceit and lies. He hasn't the honesty to face the British and Iraqi people who have come here to protest.
"I am also very angry that the police have not allowed us to protest outside the inquiry and at the amount of public money being spent to protect a war criminal."
She said she had little faith in the inquiry asking the tough questions.
Sabah Jawad of Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation said Mr Blair had been "cowardly."
"He does not want to face the British and Iraqi people here today," he said. "He probably sees this as part of history now but for the people of Iraq it is not history, they continue to live with the consequences every single day."
Blair's entrance to the inquiry was also condemned by Respect MP George Galloway. Speaking to the Star Mr Galloway said: "He can run but he can't hide. The spotlight is on him today and will remain on him for the rest of his life as a consequence of the great crime he has committed."
Many of those present reaffirmed their opinion that Mr Blair should be tried for war crimes at The Hague. Mr Galloway said he believed the former PM would be brought to justice one way or another.
"This is an interim venue - a stepping stone towards the criminal trial which Blair at least must face."
He said more and more evidence was emerging which meant that legal measures must be taken.
Also attending the protest was veteran peace activist Helen John. Ms John was one of two women jailed for three weeks for spraying anti-war graffiti on the wall of the High Court in Edinburgh.
Ms John said: "I'm not really expecting anything to come from this. There is a tiny hope that because of all the information that is emerging from the inquiry there might be an opportunity to prosecute these people.
"If that does not happen then we are not living in a democracy. It is not democratic to shield mass murderers."
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