26 Aug 2015

Chilcot Iraq war report: a timetable for a timetable

Sir John Chilcot has repeated that he will publish a timetable for his report … but not just yet.

In a statement on the inquiry website the retired civil servant says he expects the last of the responses to the Maxwellisation process – by which those criticised in the draft report are allowed to respond – to come in shortly.

When those responses have been considered and the inquiry team has worked out what extra work is required to deal with them, Sir John says he’ll be in a position to give a timetable.

The inquiry chief also acknowledges that he has written to the families who have threatened a legal challenge demanding early publication, though he doesn’t divulge his letter.

Sir John emphasises that witnesses were promised a Maxwellisation process and that he can’t withdraw that promise retrospectively. He doesn’t cast any blame on individuals for dragging their feet in responding and emphasises that the inquiry has put deadline stipulations in the letters to witnesses (though he doesn’t use those terms).

Clare Short, former international development secretary, who appears to have received a letter from the inquiry signalling some criticisms it was thinking of making, told the BBC Radio 4 World At One programme today:

“I think what might be true is the draft is very poor. It’s as big as War and Peace I understand. Lots of people have made serious responses and they are having to redraft.

“The hope of it being a good piece of work that Britain learns what went wrong and we don’t do it again looks very, very poor to me.”

Clare Short was responding to newspaper reports that the Chilcot inquiry criticism was not focused on a very small number of individuals. I mentioned in June that I’d been told “around 40” people were receiving Maxwellisation letters.

Sir John has made clear he will not be confirming any such number before or after publication.

Follow @GaryGibbonBlog on Twitter.

Tweets by @garygibbonc4