Nick Clegg tells Chilcot: People will think your report is being “sexed down”

Following tonight’s news about the further delay in the publication of the Chilcot Report until after the election, Nick Clegg has written to Sir John Chilcott to ask him to get on with it.

Here’s his letter in full 

Sir John,

I read your letter providing an update on progress with the Inquiry you chair into the United Kingdom’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

I was disappointed to read its content, however, and find it extremely frustrating that the findings of this Inquiry will not be made public in days and weeks, but potentially months.

When the independent Inquiry was first set up in 2009, the then Prime Minister Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP stated in the House of Commons that the final report would be published within a year.

However nearly six years on members of the public, soldiers and their families affected by the war are still waiting for closure.

I welcome your efforts to ensure the inquiry has been methodical, rigorous and fair in its approach. I also support your efforts to allow individuals criticised in the report to see the draft criticism and make representations to the Inquiry before publication.

However neither administrative processes nor a constant back and forth between the Inquiry and witnesses criticised should frustrate an independent report so important to the country’s future from being published as soon as possible.

The public have waited long enough and will find it incomprehensible that the report is not being published more rapidly than the open ended timetable you have now set out.

We need to see a much clearer and more defined timetable, known publicly, with strict deadlines and a firm date for publication.

If the findings are not published with a sense of immediacy, there is a real danger the public will assume the report is being ‘sexed down’ by individuals rebutting criticisms put to them by the Inquiry, whether that is the case or not.

The Inquiry into Iraq will both resolve the issues of the past, and set the tone for future British foreign policy. We cannot wait any longer for these lessons to be learned.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

24 Comments

  • “I was disappointed to read its content, however, and find it extremely frustrating that the findings of this Inquiry will not be made public in days and weeks, but potentially months.”

    I agree with Nick — as some people used to say.

    I just wish that in his five years as Deputy Prime Minister he had written this letter before now.

    It is – we are told – too late now to get the report published before the General Election.

    It is too late now to get the report published before UK troops are sent back to Iraq. They are already on their way.
    I hope we do not have to wait twelve years to decide if sending troops to Iraq in 2015 was a good idea.

  • Bill Le Breton 21st Jan '15 - 7:37am

    It would be interesting to learn why this letter is signed as coming from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats. It is not a party political issue. Was the Leader forbidden from signing it as DPM, if so by whom.? Are these views not shared by our Coalition partners? If so are we going to campaign on that? If he was advised by the Cabinet Secretary, are we publishing that advice and campaigning on an Establishment cover-up?

  • Does Nick think that people shouldn’t have a right to challenge accusations made against them before the final report is published?

    Yes it is concerning that it is taking so long to publish, but justice is not done by denying people their right to respond.

  • Bill Le Breton 21st Jan ’15 – 7:37am
    It would be interesting to learn why this letter is signed as coming from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

    Bill,
    Perhaps he had some ” Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats” headed note-paper which will not be much use to anyone after 8th May.

  • Jenny Barnes 21st Jan '15 - 8:53am

    We know what it says by the fact that it isn’t going to be published.

  • I think many members of the public will look at this as a misdirected letter; given the reasons published over the years for the continuing delays in publication and the facts published in the 12-Jan-15 update [ http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN06215/chilcot-inquiry-an-update ]

    Fundamentally, it would seem that the Chilcot Inquiry will for reasons given in the briefing paper, not to be in a position to put the final report before Parliament before the end of February 2015. A deadline the government has set to enable consultation and debate before the election.

    I think for Chilcot not to give in to political pressure and publish a reduced report indicates that there is a story to be told and it isn’t the one we’ve been lead to believe in and for this reason the report needs to expose classified source materials and upset some people…

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Jan '15 - 9:45am

    I think the plan to bomb Syria in 2013 was every bit as bad as Iraq 2003. I respected Blair’s 2013 plan for a proper invasion and to get on the side of those who wanted democracy, but I resented the plan to bomb Syria because apparently chemical weapons are wrong, but cruise missiles and nuclear bombs are fine.

    In other words: I advise against trying to win political points on this, in order not to look like a hypocrite.

  • I was apoplectic with rage in early 2003 about the obvious nonsense that was being used to justify the war, but I’m just as irate with Clegg’s cheap party politicking.

    The outcome of the enquiry will be a bland nothingness anyway. I don’t know what some people are expecting – there seems to be some kind of fantasy that Blair will be implicated as a war criminal. The report won’t say anything of the sort and will just underline what we already know – that the legality is an undecided, grey area and that the arguments about Saddam’s capabilities being put forward by the government were hyperbolic. The verdict on all of this has already been delivered by the electorate in 2005 and 2010 anyway. Besides, what about Cameron Clegg’s dodgy wars? Libya? Syria, anyone?

    @Bill le Breton
    “Are these views not shared by our Coalition partners? ”

    It was the coalition partners that sent us to that particular war. If they had voted against then it would have been lost due to the large scale Labour rebellion.

  • Bill le Breton

    It would be interesting to learn why this letter is signed as coming from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats. It is not a party political issue. Was the Leader forbidden from signing it as DPM, if so by whom.? Are these views not shared by our Coalition partners? If so are we going to campaign on that? If he was advised by the Cabinet Secretary, are we publishing that advice and campaigning on an Establishment cover-up?

    Probably because Clegg got in big trouble last time he expressed a personal opinion while performing a professional role.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/jul/21/nick-clegg-illegal-iraq-war-gaffe

  • Just to add to my points above: Why would Clegg choose to use the phrase ‘sexed down’ when it clearly references something that was infamously fabricated by right-winger Andrew Gilligan? – it was so distinct from his own words that Dr David Kelly assumed Gilligan was quoting someone else. If Clegg’s charge against Blair is that he misled then why would he refer to something that was part of a fabricated smear?

  • Why can’t people see this for what it is. In 2005 the LDs gained millions of votes from Labour due to the Iraq War. Now those votes (and more) are about to go back to Labour or the Greens, due to LD complicity in implementing Tory policies. The LDs thought the public would be bowing down to them thanking them for holding the Tories back, but instead the opposite has happened and votes/members have left in droves. Noone is listening to the LDs any more, so Clegg hopes that by re igniting the Iraq War debate he will recover some of those lost votes. To use “members of the public, soldiers and their families affected by the war” as an excuse for this is beneath contempt and shows the level to which he will stoop.

  • Worth a read: ‘Delaying publication of the Chilcot report is the right thing to do’.

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/01/delaying-publication-of-the-chilcot-report-is-the-right-thing-to-do/

  • Tony Dawson 21st Jan '15 - 7:30pm

    Carl Gardner:

    “LibDems have been using this for partisan purposes.”

    ‘Politicians do politics’ – shock horror.

    My only criticism of Nick Clegg on this issue is that he has left it far too late to intervene publicly. David Cameron says today that the report was never going to cross any Prime Minister’s desk until after the General Election anyway. If this is true then why did not Nick Clegg know it also? And why did he leave it till it was ‘too far gone’ to intervene.

    Of course, Mr Cameron might be dissembling. After all, he did support the Blair/Bush invasion, did he not?

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 7:39pm

    The obvious question to ask is, after which election?

    But isn’t there a huge degree of humbug from Clegg on this? I know Lib Dems will comfort themselves that the war of aggression on Libya (4 years ago) was justified by the United Nations Security Council, but it was a war that wrecked Libya and put it in the hands of jihadists, just like what has happened in much of Iraq.

    But the UN Security Council authorised a no-fly zone and not a war on the Libyan state, although even if it had done that, it would still have been wrong and, what’s worse damned foolish from the point of view of our country’s interests. the jihadist cancer has spread via Syria to other parts of the world.

    It’s no use crying crocodile tears of ‘Je suis Charlie’ when you helped start the whole thing in the first place.

  • Alex Sabine 21st Jan '15 - 8:17pm

    “It’s no use crying crocodile tears of ‘Je suis Charlie’ when you helped start the whole thing in the first place.”

    So our actions in Libya are responsible for the terrorist atrocity in Paris? What about the litany of terrorist attacks in the name of Islam that pre-dated the intervention in Libya?

    To my way of thinking this fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the jihadist threat, which constantly mutates and crosses borders and finds new pretexts but boils down to a hostility to freedom itself. It can only be confronted and resisted, not appeased – but this means upholding our own values and not throwing them overboard in response to the threat.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Jan '15 - 8:42pm

    I can’t believe the Lib Dems are banging on about this on Twitter. I believe in fairness, therefore Clegg has lost my support until he also demands an inquiry into the Libya and the Syria votes.

    At least Farron abstained from the Syria vote.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 8:46pm

    Alex Sabine

    Well, apart from the immorality of attacking states like Iraq and Libya, there is the lack of wisdom.

    There was no such thing as al-Qeada in Iraq before British and American troops went there, and what we did to Libya helped export the jihadist infection to Syria. Both Saddam Hussein and Colonel Ghaddafi, like Gamel Abdel Nasser, put restraints on these people, and Lib Dems, juding by their willingness to bomb Syria, have developed a thirst for war.

  • “there is a real danger the public will assume the report is being ‘sexed down’ by individuals rebutting criticisms put to them by the Inquiry”

    This is step 1 in the process of total character assassination of Chilcott that will result if the inquiry fails to label Blair a war criminal. It will be Lord Hutton all over again.

  • @Stuart

    “This is step 1 in the process of total character assassination of Chilcott …”

    I believe Sir John has done a pretty good job of assassinating his own character. It is more than three years and eleven months since the last witness gave evidence. How many judges take this long after the last witness has given evidence before they start their summing up for the jury?

  • Tsar Nicolas

    There was no such thing as al-Qeada in Iraq

    There was, however, a brutal dictator who tortured and killed 10,000s of Iraqis every year, had engaged in several wars of aggression and committed genocide against the Kurds.

  • @Richard

    “I believe Sir John has done a pretty good job of assassinating his own character. …”

    I think you have’t been following the Chilcot Inquiry to any great extent or read the updates? It would seem the report is written, however to use your example, before the judge can commence his summing up to the jury he needs to: get permission to release all evidence to the jury, and approval from witnesses et al that his view correctly represents their views/role in the whole affair.

  • @g
    “There was, however, a brutal dictator who tortured and killed 10,000s of Iraqis every year, had engaged in several wars of aggression and committed genocide against the Kurds.”

    That may be so, but those weren’t the reasons that our government told us that we were to invade Iraq. Our government told us that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that he could use against us at short notice. They played on the fear and ignorance of a large section of our population to justify the war. However, the government’s case was absurd to anyone who bothered to inquire into the details at anything more than a superficial level. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after the invasion.

    The war had nothing to do with removing weapons of mass destruction. It had nothing to do with oil. It had nothing to do with protecting sections of the Iraqi population from Saddam. It had everything to do with restoring US esteem by defeating an enemy they knew they could beat. Certain sections of the US military and political hierarchy felt they should have gone the full way in 1991 when Saddam was all but beaten. That war emboldened the US military who were still living with the humiliation of defeat in Vietnam. After 9/11 Iraq was the obvious target for America to defeat someone. Or, as a work colleague put it in the days following 9/11 – somebody’s just hit the biggest bully in the playground, so somebody else is going to get hit back. We agreed that would be Iraq.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Nigel Jones
    While it is obvious that the PM's competence is open to even more question than when she was campaigning to get elected, there is another important matter too. ...
  • Jeff
    Jenny Barnes 29th Sep '22 - 5:26pm: …when the average mortgage doubles in price, costing… Are interest rates at 2-3% sustainable with infl...
  • Jeff
    Jenny Barnes 29th Sep '22 - 5:26pm: …when the average mortgage doubles in price, costing… Were interest rates at 2-3% sustainable with infl...
  • Paul Barker
    The reaction of The Voters seems fairly "hysterical" as well & they are the Bosses....
  • Ann Bailey
    Jeff 29th Sep '22 - 5:12pm................‘The hysterical over-reactions to the Budget betray ignorance of history and economics’:................. Howev...