8 Mar 2010

Chilcot's last stand – before his inquiry goes quiet

Channel 4 News Iraq Inquiry blogger looks ahead to David Miliband and Bill Jeffrey’s evidence.

A landmark day, and not just because we’re going to be hearing from 0900 from Foreign Secretary David Miliband and then the MoD’s top civil servant Bill Jeffrey.

Once they’re done the Inquiry will be taking itself off into purdah until the summer, by which time of course we could have a wholly new government.

Which isn’t to say that Chilcot’s team are powering down altogether.

As he said when the main tranche of hearings ended last month, the panel will now go over the evidence taken so far “to see where the evidence joins together and where there are gaps.” That will govern which witnesses they decide to call (or re-call) for the next round of public hearings.

More controversially they’ll also be holding “a limited number” of private hearings to deal with intelligence and national security-related issues. The Inquiry sets out its reasoning for these secret sessions on its website,  but inevitably some people will still question how they affect its transparency and independence.

Additionally we hope before long to learn more about the panel’s overseas plans. Chilcot has already mooted trips to Baghdad and Washington although we don’t yet know to whom they hope to talk, on what terms (they can’t take ‘formal’ evidence from foreign nationals) and with what degree of media access. The Inquiry’s eventual aim is to then produce its findings either late this year or early next.

This blog will also therefore be going quiet for a little while, but I’ll keep putting out updates in the meantime via Twitter. Some interesting stats late on Friday by the way on how the media Tweeted GB’s evidence.

Parting is such sweet sorrow and all that jazz. Live Tweets from 09h00.