- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

HOBART, Australia (Agence France-Presse) — Richard Butler, a former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, was forced to resign as a representative of the British monarchy after being accused of arrogant and boorish behavior.

Mr. Butler, 62, who was appointed by an Australian Labor Party government as governor of the island state of Tasmania 10 months ago, announced his resignation Monday to end what he said was a “malicious campaign” against him and his wife.

The appointment of the former diplomat as Queen Elizabeth’s representative sparked controversy because he had long advocated abandoning the constitutional link between Australia and the British monarchy.

As an outspoken critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and of Australia’s role in it, Mr. Butler had angered the conservative side long before he was appointed to the highly paid but largely ceremonial position.

But in his final days, Labor was demanding his ouster as vociferously as the conservatives.

Labor lawmakers in Canberra, including fellow republican Harry Quick who had called for Mr. Butler’s resignation, said his assertions of a malicious campaign were a “figment of his imagination.”

“He behaved as though he was the emperor of Tasmania,” Mr. Quick said.

Mr. Butler, who at $262,000 a year was the highest paid of Australia’s seven viceroys, reportedly caused a scene after unsuccessfully demanding an upgrade from economy class on a Singapore Airlines flight with his new wife, Jennifer, shortly after taking office.

In May, he represented Tasmania at the royal wedding of Mary Donaldson, the Tasmanian-born crown princess of Denmark, but reportedly disgraced himself by starting his meal before the arrival of Queen Margarethe.

Yesterday, Labor Prime Minister Paul Lennon of Tasmania held a three-hour meeting with Mr. Butler, whose tenure was marked by breaches of protocol and last week by an exodus of his staff, including three top aides and the police aide-de-camp.

Mr. Lennon said he thought Mr. Butler had been a victim of gossip and innuendo, and had offered him a golden handshake of $462,000.

Mr. Butler, Australia’s representative on the United Nations Security Council before leading the U.N. weapons inspection team in Iraq in 1997 and 1998, criticized Prime Minister John Howard for declaring that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

But Mr. Butler was forced to concede on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television that he, too, had said before the war that Iraq possessed such weapons.

Federal Special Minister of State Eric Abetz, a republican, said he did not think monarchists had waged a campaign against Mr. Butler.

“I think there was a touch of arrogance about the man,” he said.

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