25 Nov 2009

Iraq inquiry: press reaction

The Channel 4 News Iraq Inquiry Blogger looks at the press reactin to the first day at the Iraq Inquiry.

Two days in and you begin to get a feel for the Inquiry committee and how they work. Their performance on day one certainly took a pounding from the press this morning.

Simon Carr in the Independent wasted no time; “The Chilcot Inquiry looks set to be boring, miasmic and faintly dishonest.

“This is a panel that the toadiest of Blair toadies would have chosen. Why Brown agreed to it is a mystery.”

The Daily Mail was scarcely more optimistic for the Inquiry’s prospects, John Kampfner writing that as the Inquiry began “one conclusion could be drawn before a single person had said a single word: Tony Blair will get away with it. Again.”

Elsewhere in the Mail, Quentin Letts also let off both barrels: laying into “chairman Sir John Chilcot and his fellow establishment puddings.” Letts concludes that “as someone once said, things can only get better.” (I did like his description of former FCO Middle East boss Sir William Patey as “one of life’s smilers.”)

But my view is it hasn’t (yet) all been about missed opportunities. Much as I wrote yesterday both Sir Roderic Lyne and Prof Lawrence Freedman have both landed decent hits punches.

For instance today when Lyne asked whether Blair’s proud claims that the ISG had found massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories corresponded with the advice the Foreign Office was giving ministers. Tim Dowse’s elliptical “I did not advise them” could be read on many different levels.

So it’s early days, early days indeed with at least six months stretching ahead of us. Let’s see how they perform with a more established public figure like Sir Christopher Meyer tomorrow.