Farron: Chilcott delay “simply not good enough”

The BBC says that the Chilott Inquiry into the Iraq war may now not report until next year, a full 13 years since the misguided and ill-fated invasion.

A source close to the inquiry, which began in 2009, told Newsnight “nobody thinks it will come out this year”. An inquiry spokesman declined to comment.

British forces lost 179 personnel during the conflict, of whom 136 were killed in action.

By 31 August 2010, when the last US combat troops left, 4,421 US personnel had been killed, of whom 3,492 were killed in action. Almost 32,000 had been wounded in action.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians also died as a result of sectarian killings and a violent insurgency.

The inquiry was commissioned by the previous government to investigate the background to UK involvement in the Iraq War, which began when Tony Blair was prime minister.

The Liberal Democrats have long called for its swift publication. Foreign affairs spokesman Tim Farron was not impressed with this further delay:

In 2003 Britain was led by the Labour Party with Conservative support into a war with Iraq which many people in our country believe was illegal. The speculation that Sir John Chilcot’s report into the Iraq War may now not be published until 2016 is deeply concerning. Liberal Democrats opposed the war in Iraq, and pushed for this inquiry to be held. Hundreds of thousands of families have had their lives torn apart by the Iraq war and deserve answers. It is simply not good enough for this process to be continually delayed and the report must be published.

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  • Do the Liberal Democrats not believe that those criticised in Chilcott drafts have the right to have their responses considered by the inquiry before publication?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st Apr '15 - 11:44am

    Not forever, no.

  • 13 years isn’t forever…

  • g – producing a draft version for people to comment on by a deadline, considering all responses, and then producing a final version is bread and butter in public life. Think consultations such as boundary reviews, any council’s budget, government consultations on legislation or procedures, planning applications etc. – they all follow this process.

    I am left wondering whether Chilcot is out of his depth in being unable to carry this out.

  • A Social Liberal 21st Apr '15 - 12:35pm

    Is Chilcott publishing later than Saville? As I understand it the latter took five years from the last witness to going into print and THAT report did not have the sensitivities that this one does.

  • Roland, Chilcott started about 6 years ago. Not 13 years, and not actually that long for a complex inquiry. Inquiries into Hillsborough are still ongoing, and that is a much simpler situation.

    Caron, do the Lib Dems believe justice should be fair, or not? If you do, then on what grounds do you reject the right of those accused in the Chilcott inquiry to defend themselves properly?

  • Peter Hayes 21st Apr '15 - 8:44pm

    g – how long would a judge in a criminal case allow the defence to prepare the case and why should this be different? Should not those referred to be expected to justify delays in front of a judge?

  • g – My mistake in not properly reading the article. But even so not a long-time (which was my point).

    My family has recently gained comfort (and some wry amusement) from the release of some FCO papers dating from the 1950’s, unfortunately not in time for the person concerned to be told the true nature of the events he was directly involved in, but in time for the facts to be presented at his funeral.

  • Peter Hayes

    g – how long would a judge in a criminal case allow the defence to prepare the case and why should this be different? Should not those referred to be expected to justify delays in front of a judge?

    This isn’t a criminal inquiry for a start, but I take the point and it is reasonable to ask for justification for delays. I still think it would be unreasonable, and unjust, to rush to publish without allowing people to defend themselves properly.

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