Published on 14 Jan 2013

Where is Chilcot's Iraq inquiry report?

Where is the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, four and a half years after it was established and two months short of the tenth anniversary of the invasion?

A million words in, the inquiry team has been withered by illness and exhaustion, not a little of which has been caused by the intransigence of the political machine to regurgitate the papers of the time.

The resistance to its completion and publication are reportedly the political classes who supported and led the war effort – the very people most likely to be targeted by the inquiry findings. The fear is that the delays will become so protracted that the next election (2015) will be permitted to become yet another delaying force.

We don’t hear much from Sir John Chilcot. When last heard from he indicated that sometime in 2013 those fingered by the inquiry would be shown the evidence and allowed to respond – it doesn’t sound like a speedy process. Whitehall was suggesting that the report might be published at the end of last year.

Now it’s the end of this year and maybe later still.

The danger is that this awful episode – what many regard as the worst UK foreign policy disaster since Suez – will have happened so long ago, that those who will be seen as having been responsible will be allowed to slink off into the long grass of history.

Impact of Iraq

All over the Maghreb and the Middle East the world is paying the price for the decision to invade Iraq. Iraqi al-Qaeda are repeatedly being reported in Syria, fighting on the rebel side. And now they are at war in Mali.

Iraq itself is a chaotic entity, riven with division and corruption. The south is an effective Iranian fiefdom. The Kurdish north is all but an independent oil state – potentially one of the richest in modern times. The seasoned fighters, whether al-Qaeda or other, are wandering from Mauritania in the west, to Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the east.

Why is the non-publication of potentially the most critical UK foreign policy inquiries of our generation such a low key issue?

A million people marched against the Iraq war before a shot was fired. Have they forgotten what drove them onto the streets?

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26 reader comments

  1. Jillian says:

    Maybe those same people are too busy working ridiculously long hours and trying to keep it all together with wages that have long since ceased to keep pace with the cost of living to raise their heads, never mind their hands, in protest? That is if they’re still lucky enough to have a job?

    The billions poured into the illegal Iraq war, the millions siphoned off (sorry, missing) from infrastructure funds the hundreds of thousands dead or severely injured and the millions displaced surely can’t be held up as a cynical exercise in lining the pockets of a few millionaires with fat contracts

  2. Skynet says:

    So much for impartiality.

  3. Patrick says:

    They haven’t forgotten what drove people onto the streets. They just don’t care. They didn’t back then and they certainly don’t now.

  4. Ross Kelly says:

    They are probably waiting for Tony Blair to get Alastair Campbell to sex it down.

    1. Sandra Dunn says:

      Well said. Get Blair on to explain himself!!! haha He’s too busy making money…

  5. Patrick says:

    As for why, perhaps it’s precisely for the sorts of reasons you’ve already mentioned?

    Iraq is a mess, and now we have the likes of Mali to deal with.

    It would be difficult to imagine any government easily accepting failures in such a public way, especially if said failures have helped to create the current issues we’re all facing.

  6. Andrew Dundas says:

    Maybe they’re just holding back their report so that they can grap ‘stardom’ just before the next election?

  7. NeilC says:

    Can we not start an online petition and get this discussed in Parliament?

    1. Charles Cross says:

      A petition is a sensible idea, It is a disgrace that this inquiry is being kicked into the long grass in the hope that it gets forgotten about. I can not be right that the inquiry takes longer to report than the chronicle of events being examined.

    2. Anthony Miller says:

      It actually was discussed in parliament but only by they Lords. The Lords are naughty…

      … I cannot get a sensible answer out a sitting MP but Michael Fabricant managed a “dunno”.
      There’s been no debate in the Commons – turkeys dont vote for christmas.
      But it’s not all pessimism – polls suggest a hardening of attitudes against Blair.

  8. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Answer oil and money.No money and money. They have probably mixed all the papers up , lost important bits, rewritten everything out of context, changed the focus,, need I say more!

  9. Kes says:

    They’re waiting until after the invasion of Syria so that they can do a job lot.

  10. Salim Al-Hasso says:

    Even if they sat down tomorrow and miraculously produced a damning report of past policies and procedures; would that really help to stop governments from taking similar decisions and get involved in new wars?. As for the one million who marched against the war, well the momentum is gone and very few people can focus on such humanitarian issues for long!. I am an Iraqi living in Britain and maintains daily link with events and family in Iraq. Despite the divisions and chaos in the country, the majority of Iraqis go about their business, trying to establish a sense of odd normality, while at the same time worry about the lack of jobs, law and order and all the components of life that we, in Britain take for granted. To come back to your point , We need to get some social momentum going that can unite voices like yours, to call for justice and international condemnation of all corrupt policies that continue to rule our world today and likely to do so in the foreseeable future.

  11. Robert Crick says:

    I was one of the hundreds of oddballs protesting against Tony Blair at the Chlcot enquiry. Most of us who went back to protest again, the second time the war criminal appeared, were definitely mad. I was also one of the probably two million ignored on the streets ten years ago. And in 1964 I was teaching English in what are now the front line communities in the crusade to terrorise terror in Mali, where the nomadic Touareg were fighting for their independence as they had been doing since before independence and have been doing ever since. But now they have got weapons – provided by France via our ally Gaddafi (recruited by Tony Blair) and an ideology – imported from the CIA campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Maybe the publication of the Chilcot enquiry findings could give our rulers a hint about how to avoid yet another desert war. But maybe they don’t do irony. And maybe they want and need desert wars to divert our attention from the criminal injustice of what they are doing closer to home. I am now running a Food Bank for the dispossessed and destitute of Sidmouth, one of the most prosperous towns in England. Hoping to see justice before I die.

    1. Peter Brierley says:

      I was an oddball inside, my son died in Iraq. We were promised a quick report before the inquiry started and I was foolish enough to believe them.
      I still do think that those responsible will be named and will be brought to justice. It may not be what I want but it will happen in some form

  12. Philip says:

    That’s legal bureaucracy for you. If you’re going to publish something that could provide a quasi-legal basis for irreparable damage to various people’s reputations, you’ve got to make sure it’s legally hard and fast – otherwise you end up being sued and the reputation of your report is undermined, possibly fatally. Taking it right takes time when there are so many words & getting words that aren’t subject to multiple interpretations is difficult & takes time – which some of those involved have no interest in not spinning it out. It’s also possible that there are no clear-cut conclusions despite what many believe & hope. The evidence available (& that may well not mean all the relevant evidence, some not having been made available for whatever reason) may not allow that. Ideally, it won’t turn out as a “not proven” verdict possibly because of insufficient evidence, but what many would like to believe may not actually be based on concrete evidence but what they would like to believe. That would be extremely disappointing – but I think I’d rather have a thorough enquiry which comes out with an honest answer based on the available evidence than one that bases its conclusions on something other than evidence.

  13. Carol says:

    The situation just makes you feel so disillusioned and disappointed that there seem to be so many powerful people pulling the strings behind the scenes.. I think an online petition or something similar is a good idea if there is any way of reminding enough people about the Chilcot enquiry.

  14. Ian Duncan says:

    Remember David Kelly, whose unusual death was blithely declared,to have been suicide, but never, investigated despite a mass of strong evidence to the contrary? The onlly case of a sudden unexplained death whch has ever been denied a coroner’s inquest, and by the hand of the PM himself – early evidence of a new manipulative standard in UK politics, crowned by Blair’s lucrative second career as a lecturer in ethics?? Hutton was farcical, so why should Chilcot be any different? Campbell’s always made a good thick soup and the recipe has been passed on.

  15. Sadie says:

    The Algerian incident this last week and Cameron’s response/rhetoric/bluster should make the Chilcot report vital for the research, strategical planning for the future on this issue. Someone, somehow must be able to force it to the top by this reason. If it does not ever get aired then the civil servants or government officials should be sent the bill for it. It must be recognised in these circles that the days of being able to side ways something into a dusty filing cabinet are going. The taxpayer finances, we want the goods.

    Western governments have wilfully or ignorantly avoided dealing constructively with Africa and neighbours. They opted out to NGOs and hoped that when enough money and divided aims had been thrown at it that societal evolution would have happened in double quick time and of course it has not … but many NGOs have made good careers out of it!

    To just train-up the local forces is not enough. To put in Western style administration, business format is impracticable. Global warming cannot afford for that much airconditioning added to all that USA uses! Every continent has different cultures and religions. These have evolved for climate, – agriculture possibilities working with the climate, pace of life per climate and a nations personality is as climate moulds.

    So this all means we need for planning more than a bunch of macho men and Generals. Possibly to avoid any one ex-colonial power getting stuck with a past colony that it is an international committee/working group including locals for any specific area. etc, etc …… We are all, the public getting tired of politicians inadequacies on repetitive issues – it is all there now to watch or listen to, history is alive that way it no longer as an excuse on a dusty bookshelf.

  16. Stella says:

    If US/Britain had not attacked Iraq and shifted it to Shia control, there would not have been an avenue for Iranian soldiers and weapons to reach Syria recently. The Syrian conflict would have been over more quickly with less bloodshed. Even better, the Syrian conflict might never have started if Cameron/Hague hadn’t led the rush to attack Libya under the guise (lies) of “protecting civilians”, misleading Syrians into thinking they might get some protection. It was pitiful to see the Syrian protesters putting up banners begging for UN protection and UK politicians cheerfully announcing that no military action would be taken. Either way, Cameron and the Conservatives who supported Tony Blair have a responsibility for a lot of Syrian bloodshed now. They should all be in prison, not in politics. Thanks Jon for any attention you can bring to the Chilcot inquiry and the appalling failures of successive UK governments in addressing Middle East issues fairly, honestly or respectfully.

  17. Richard says:

    Er…it is out but no mainstream media seem particularly interested in reporting it – Blair and Bush were found unanimously guilty yesterday (Feb 04)

    1. Salim Al-Hasso says:

      I cannot find any reference to the report being out on 4th feb 2013. Where can I read it ?

  18. malcolm bell says:

    empty words like bullets bark while human god aim for the mark

  19. Charlie says:

    They are probably hanging on until some lawyer can explain away Blairs manifestly false assertion to Parliament that the evidence that Saddam possessed WMD was ” beyond doubt” was not infact a criminal act of misleading Parliament.


    Chilcot and David Kelly. From Mail on Sunday,24th March 2013. A former British diplomat has revealed that he was “warned” by the senior civil servant running the Iraq Inquiry not to mention Dr.Kelly when giving evidence. Carne Ross, the UK’s Iraq expert between 1998 and 2002, said he was told by the “very aggressive” official that if he discussed Dr.Kelly during the testimony he would be silenced. It is understood the official was Margaret Aldred, secretary of the Iraq Inquiry. Ross was a close friend of Dr.Kelly (who) had been named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing the Blair Government of lying to take Britain into the war. Having worked with Dr.Kelly for several years, Ross intended to to say a few words about him as a tribute which he submitted in earlier written evidence. ON THE ALLEGED SUICIDE. Successive governments have refused to hold a full coroner’s inquest, making him the only person in modern English legal history to be denied a proper inquest. (The Sun was delighted by the suicide verdict – PB) Last month a group of doctors wrote to the chief coroner of England and Wales, Peter Thornton QC,urging him to resume the inquest, which was halted in 2003. This was rejected. The fact that an inquiry official stopped a witness from saying what he wished to say throws doubt on the inquiry’s impartiality. And this weekend a senior MP has revealed that when he offered to submit evidence about Dr.Kelly’s death in 2009, he was told by Chilcot personally that “he did not want to touch the Kelly issue”. (This MP might have been Norman Baker, who wrote the excellent ‘The Strange Death of David Kelly’ in 2007 – PB). Carne Ross, who now runs the New York-based diplomatic advisory group Independent Diplomat, recalled the day he gave evidence to Chilcot in July 2010. He told the MoS:”I was taken into the room where witnesses sat and shortly before I was to testify an official came in and said “You are not to speak about David Kelly. ” If he did the videolink of his evidence to the press would be cut and he would have to leave. Having been warned, he kept quiet. Carne says he wasn’t happy about it. “I felt very strongly about David. He was a man of honesty and integrity … It’s pure control freakery. It was weird. Chilcot was incredibly tense. Clearly he feared I was going to say something”. Carne says he doesn’t know if Dr.Kelly killed himself, adding that if he did “I would like to see the people who hounded him to death brought to account. It was as good as murder”. Phil Braithwaite (of the 2 million, and the other 13 marches). at gilbert.braithwaite @

  21. Sheila Hardiman says:

    I feel that this enquiry after all the time and expense is just going to disappear over the horizon with no-one being called to account. When can we expect to get an outcome from this enquiry?

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