Flawed and far from satisfactory – Blair at centre of damning findings

Nathanael Williams

The Iraq Inquiry finds the former Prime Minister liable for failings in intelligence, preparation and legality


IN a somber yet blistering statement Sir John Chilcot outlined the findings of his long awaited public inquiry in to the political preparation and military conduct of the 2003 War in Iraq. The Privy Councillor and senior civil servant charged with its completion held a press conference this morning to address the media with the keys points and lessons he felt were crucial from his findings. 


Focusing on the question of intelligence he said: “Policy on Iraq was made on basis of flawed intelligence and assessments-they were not challenged and should have been” Sir John went to describe the inconsistencies between what the former Prime Minster had given as the reasons for invading Iraq and the intelligence evidence and public government line at the time.


There was also questions over the handling of preparation and planning for the ear and the UK and US relationship with the UN and the security council. Chilcot stated: “But in March 2003 there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein, the strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time, the majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring.” 


Lord Goldsmith the government’s Attorney General at the time came in for heavy criticism for his inconsistent advise to Tony Blair and change of position in the run up.


The main argument Tony Blair cited for going to war was that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. However, this was never proved, which cast an extra layer of doubt over the legitimacy of the invasion. 


The legal basis for war has been reviewed by Sir John Chilcot:

“We have, however, concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory."


The soldiers killed in Iraq and the many Iraqi civilians who have suffered were acknowledged by Sir John Chilcot in his opening statement and throughout the report. 


“The invasion and subsequent instability in Iraq had, by July 2009, also resulted in the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqis – and probably many more – most of them civilians. More than a million people were displaced. The people of Iraq have suffered greatly."


Over the course of the conflict that followed, a total of 179 British servicemen and women were killed and 500,000 of Iraqi civilians lost their lives. The intervention was successful in bringing an end to the reign of brutal dictator Saddam Hussein but failed to bring stability to the region once Hussein was removed. 


In response to Sir John Chilcot's report former PM Tony Blair said: "I do not believe the removal of Saddam Hussein is the cause of terrorism we see today in the Middle East or elsewhere.”


Tony Blair also said that his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussain was taken "in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country".