Chilcot Inquiry to scrutinise government figures beyond Blair’s team


The Chilcot Inquiry will investigate a range of senior government figures beyond that of Blair’s inner circle of colleagues

SOURCES involved in the Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion have said that blame will not only be placed on Tony Blair and his close associates, but on a wider variety of government figures.

A source told the Guardian that although Blair and his closest advisers will face the heaviest scrutiny throughout the inquiry, a wide range of people would, at least in part, be blamed.

The inquiry took evidence from approximately 150 people. One of the ministers expected to face scrutiny is Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary during the Iraq invasion. Other figures include Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, former defence secretary Geoff Hoon and Sir John Scarlett, past chairman of the joint intelligence committee.

The Chilcot inquiry, which began in 2009, has faced heightened criticism to publish the reports following a series of delays.

One of the explanations cited for the delay is the widened circle of individuals facing scrutiny.

Each person involved in the inquiry will be forwarded a series of draft passages, allowing them a chance to make statements. The move has been made in an effort to guarantee that those facing scrutiny are given the chance to contradict the criticism, and to ensure that legal action cannot be taken after the publication of the report.

The report will cover events leading up to the invasion, focussing specifically on defective intelligence, and questions around the legality of military action. It will also delve into whether Blair gave early backing to support the US-led invasion with former US President, George W Bush.

The inquiry heard that senior military figures were given inadequate time to prepare for the invasion. Commanders of the UK military have proved to be some of the loudest critics of Whitehall’s decisions, but have been advised against publically airing criticisms by the Ministry of Defence.

The unanimous stance of top lawyers within the foreign office was that the invasion would be illegal. However, this claim has been rejected by Straw.

Chief of the defence staff at the time of the invasion, Admiral Lord Boyce, told the inquiry: “I suspect if I asked half the cabinet were we at war, they would not have known what I was talking about. There was a lack of political cohesion at the top.”

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