London (AFP)

Recall responsibility for the invasion of Iraq in 2003: for British whistleblower Katharine Gun, a former British intelligence employee, this is the key message of the film that portrays her story, "Official Secrets ".

A former translator for Britain's Electronic Intelligence Service (GCHQ), 45-year-old Katharine Gun leaked a secret US memorandum calling for British help in tapping UN Security Council delegates before a vote crucial on the war in Iraq.

A desperate strand, she now finds that despite their decisive role in the Iraqi invasion without a UN mandate, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush have managed to restore their image.

"This film could help correct this," she told AFP before the screening of the feature film at the London Film Festival on Thursday.

Treated by his opponents as "poodle" George Bush, many criticized at the time the British leader to have followed headlong the US president, under the false pretext that the country held weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The memo leaked in the press had caused a violent political storm, and Katharine Gun had been indicted under the Official Secrets Act. The charges against her had finally been dropped in 2004, for lack of evidence.

- "Back to normal life" -

Like her, the director hopes that the film will recall the illegal nature of the conflict. "There is no rehabilitation possible for two leaders who had to admit that this whole story of ADM was pure invention, manipulation and a lie," said South African Gavin Hood.

"It's terrible, this rehabilitation of George Bush only because (the current US President, Donald) Trump seems worse ... We must stop these ineptitudes," he added.

"Official Secrets" was released in August in the United States and in October in the United Kingdom, before an expanded release later in the year.

"It took me a long time to accept the events (...) Every time I tried to (tell) them, my stress level rose again," said Katharine Gun, who lives in Turkey since 2011 with her husband and daughter.

But after being fired from her job in 2003, she continued to live in the shadow of the government's communications headquarters in the south of England.

"All I wanted was to get back to a normal life, and that's what I did," she said. She worked as a teacher of Mandarin, training even former GCHQ colleagues.

- "Questions about loyalty" -

"It was very exciting," said Martin Bright (played by Matt Smith), the reporter for the weekly The Observer who published the memo, another main character in the feature film. "For a journalist, it's like scoring a goal for Wembley: having a story that makes the front page of a Sunday newspaper."

Katharine Gun was initially reluctant to get involved in the film. But she changed her mind after telling the whole story in detail to Gavin Hood, director of politically acclaimed films like "My Name Is Tsotsi" (2005) and "Eye in the Sky" (2015).

"I tell this story because I think it raises interesting questions about loyalty (...), what and who should we be loyal to?", Explained the filmmaker.

For Katharine Gun, the fact of not being accountable today also explains the lies conveyed by Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "This gives a very bad example," she said.

© 2019 AFP