Calls for publication of Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq before General Election

By staff writers
January 5, 2015

The UK government is facing calls for the publication of the Chilcot report into the causes of the war in Iraq as a matter of urgency before the general election on 7 May 2015.

Disarmament advocates and politicians – including the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – have repeatedly made this call, which was last week renewed as a demand at Westminster by the Scottish National Party.

It is now some five years since the Inquiry led by Sir John Chilcot started to take evidence from witnesses involved in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

In May 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped the Chilcot Inquiry would by unveiled by the end of the year. But no further news has been forthcoming

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said in his first evidence session to the inquiry that he had "no regrets" about the war, which others have accused of being manufactured and illegal under international law.

Angus Robertson MP, the SNP’s Westminster Leader, commented on 3 December 2015: “It would be inconceivable to go into a General Election year still not knowing the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry. The case for its publication is now made all the more imperative given the Labour party in Scotland is led by a Westminster MP who voted for the Iraq war.

“The illegal invasion of Iraq is a scandal without parallel in modern times, and – more than a decade later – the war and its consequences continue to cast a long shadow. No one can seriously claim that peace and security in Iraq itself, the Middle East region or the world as a whole have been improved as a result of the war.

“The findings of this inquiry have been delayed and blocked disgracefully for five years. The people of Scotland and the UK as a whole deserve to know the truth about how Westminster and Tony Blair’s Government operated in the lead up to this terrible war before they cast their vote next May and we must have full publication before then.

“The invasion is estimated to have cost the lives of up to at least 120,000 innocent civilians – and there were almost 5,000 coalition military fatalities, including almost 200 military deaths among UK forces personnel. The Iraq War cost the MoD more than £8 billion.

"The illegal invasion and war in Iraq was a disgrace. People deserve full disclosure about how Westminster operated in the lead up to this disastrous war.”

In November 2014 Liberal Democrat Ibrahim Taguri wrote in the New Statesman magazine: "How can we possibly intervene in another conflict when the investigation into the failings of the last Iraq war is kept out of the public domain?

"We cannot possibly hope to learn from our past mistakes or bring about real humanitarian change in the world, when such important information is kept secret."

The long-running inquiry examined the period from summer 2001 to the end of July 2009, taking in the run-up to the Iraq war, the extent of the conflict and its aftermath.

the official reason for the delay has been that Sir Jeremy Heywood, the country's most senior civil servant, has been seeking legal advice on what can and cannot be published.

In a select committee hearing in July 2014, Heywood declared that he wanted the Chilcot inquiry to publish "the maximum possible without destroying our relationship with the US [and] without revealing secrets that don't need to be revealed".

At its launch Sir John Chilcot, chair of the inquiry, said: "This is an Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors. It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath.

"We will therefore be considering the UK's involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country."

When he announced in the House of Commons the setting-up of the Inquiry, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, "Its scope is unprecedented."

No official news has been registered on the inquiry site since June 2014, five years after its completion.

* UK's Iraq Inquiry (official site): http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk

* More on the upcoming General Election from Ekklesia here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015

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