MPs to grill Iraq inquiry chairman

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Sir John Chilcot will face questions from MPs next week amid growing criticism of delays to his report into the Iraq war.

The inquiry chairman will appear before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday to discuss the process and “obstacles which remain”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been among those expressing frustration that the report has yet to be finalised, more than five years after the probe was launched.

The inquiry took evidence from its last witness in 2011 – but Sir John has confirmed its task will not now be completed until after the general election.

MPs are due to debate the delays to the report in Parliament on Thursday – with some demanding the existing text and key evidence be handed over immediately for publication.

In a letter to Mr Cameron earlier this month, Sir John explained that individuals criticised in the draft document were still being contacted so they have an opportunity to respond – a procedure known as Maxwellisation.

He also confirmed that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood had agreed to the publication of 29 memos from Tony Blair to then US president George Bush, with a “very small number of redactions”, and along with material relating to conversations between the leaders.

But Sir John said there was “no realistic prospect” of delivering the report before May 7.

Giving evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee today, Sir Jeremy insisted he was also frustrated by the time the inquiry was taking.

He said his involvement had been “limited” to negotiating on the release of key documents and that had been completed in a matter of weeks.

“I don’t think I have been responsible for delays to the John Chilcot process. Obviously it is for John Chilcot himself and his inquiry team to explain the delays,” he told the committee.

“There was a disagreement, a discussion between departments and the inquiry as to whether or not certain very sensitive documents, which previously would never have been contemplated for publication, should indeed be published.

“That issue came to me for resolution in line with the protocol that was agreed and over a passage of weeks we resolved that to their satisfaction.”

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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