Should Britain hold another Iraq war inquiry?

July 31, 2009

Former civil servant Sir John Chilcot has been tasked with the latest inquiry into the Iraq war – the fifth – and has promised to investigate “as thoroughly, as fairly, as independently as we can”.

But given the rather lukewarm response from the opposition parties, Chilcot faces an uphill task to deliver on that promise and avoid accusations of a “whitewash”.

Already questions have been asked about the independence of Chilcot’s five-member panel.

While Chilcot himself was a member of the Butler inquiry that cleared former Prime Minister Tony Blair of dishonesty in using intellligence in the run-up to the war, another panel member — the historian Martin Gilbert — wrote in 2004 that Tony Blair and George Bush could one day be compared to Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, while a third member — fellow historian Sir Lawrence Freedman — helped Blair develop his doctrine of liberal interventionism.

And Chilcot’s suggestion that the inquiry would occasionally hold private hearings to ensure openness from witnesses has been described by shadow foreign secretary William Hague as a “worrying new caveat”.

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has also criticised Chilcot’s decision not to employ a barrister to cross-examine witnesses.

“This is important to ensure that as gifted a communicator as Blair is not allowed to slip off the hook.”

The inquiry is expected to last until late next year and may not deliver its report until 2011. That means its conclusions will not be published before a general election due by next June, though Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government could still be embarrassed with Chilcot’s insisting he is prepared to apportion blame.

“If we find that people fell short in their duty, made mistakes (or) acted wrongly, we shall most certainly say so and say so clearly,” said Chilcot.

Do you think there is a need for another inquiry into the Iraq war? And will Chilcot’s probe succeed in holding past and present leaders to account?

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More political rhetoric, more tax payers money, more political cliches which indicate nothing more than what we already know.

Posted by Michael Padley | Report as abusive

These enquiries are a waste of time and money – the establishment will never turn on its own.Anyway, everyone knows that a sovereign country was illegally invaded by the British army on a known false premise, ‘weapons of mass destruction’, so what can be new?The big danger is that attention is drawn away from the real issue of the moment – how to withdraw from the equally illegal invasion of Afghanistan.

Posted by bill | Report as abusive

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Posted by Chilcot statement & videos on Blair Trial … I mean … Iraq Inquiry « Tony Blair | Report as abusive

NO is all that is required, and for both questions

Posted by Steve P | Report as abusive

What a great idea, let’s splash another £30m, £50m, £100m on yet MORE ‘jobs for the boys’. We know we went in for the wrong reasons, we know the outcome so let’s move on. How about kncoking the money off our massive national debt, or investing in our shambolic public services? What we need it an old-fashioned time and motion man (or woman) to actually work out the value we are gettng out of these enquiries. Even better, let’s hold an enquiry into why we have all these enquiries…

Posted by Adam K | Report as abusive