The long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war is reportedly set to savage Tony Blair and other former government officials in an “absolutely brutal” verdict on the failings of the occupation. The former Prime Minister “won’t be let off the hook” over claims he offered military assistance to the former American President George W Bush, a year before the invasion of Iraq, a source told the Sunday Times.
The Inquiry, which was set up by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in June 2009 to look into the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, will release its 2.6 million word report just two weeks after the EU referendum. It is expected to “damage the reputations” of a number of high-ranking officials. The source added that the harshest criticism will be reserved for the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
“It will be absolutely brutal for [Mr] Straw,” they told the Sunday Times. “The build-up to war is very crucial. It will damage the reputations of a number of people, Richard Dearlove as well as Tony Blair and others. But there is a second half. The report will say that we really did make a mess of the after¬math.”
“We sent in inexperienced people. People were put in positions where they couldn’t succeed. We didn’t quite know what we were doing. After the invasion we found it very much more difficult than we had expected. “All the things the British had been saying about how much better we were at dealing with post-conflict resolution than the Americans came very badly unstuck.”
Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, will also face criticism for failing to prevent Downing Street from putting “gloss” on intelligence surrounding the alleged weapons of mass destruction. Mr Blair will already be familiar with the criticisms in the report due to the Maxwellisation process, which allows those under fire to respond to the allegations in the report before publication.
Last year, in an interview with CNN, the former Labour Prime Minister issued a partial apology. He said: “I can say that I apologise for the face that the intelligence I received was wrong. I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning, and certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime”.
The Iraq Inquiry will be based on the testimony of more than 150 witnesses, who contributed to more than 130 sessions of oral evidence. It also incorporates the results of the examination of 150,000 Government documents examined. But delays to the report, which started nearly seven years ago, have been criticised by families of those who died during the eight-year occupation of Iraq between 2003 and 2011.
Reg Keys, who lost his 20-year-old son Lance Corporal Thomas Keys Thomas was killed in the conflict said it was “dragging out the agony of the families who want to draw a line under this.”
by Ashley Cowburn