Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to face the Iraq Inquiry for a second time as the committee desires “more detail” in some key areas.
Branded by some as a war criminal, Tony Blair led the UK into the Iraq War which has been claimed by many to be an “illegal” war. A number of former government lawyers have also argued that it was an unlawful act, and the UN security council did not support the invasion.
Blair is one of a number of individuals who have been asked to re-appear before the committee; other key figures asked to give evidence include former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, former Chief of Defence Staff Lord Bryce, Lord Turnbull and Lord Wilson.
The committee has questioned many members and former members of the Labour Cabinet, as well as senior military commanders, civil servants, and diplomats. However, the Inquiry requires “further evidence” on certain matters and key areas, as there are gaps or certain aspects that need clarifying. It has been revealed that Tony Blair will appear before the committee on 18 January 2011.
It is interesting to note that WikiLeaks has released a cable that shows that the UK was resorting to measures to protect “US interests” during the Iraq Inquiry. Released on 22 September 2009, the cable shows how Jon Day, the MOD’s Director General for Security Policy, promised US diplomats that the UK had “put measures in place to protect your interests during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq War”. Day explained that while “Iraq seems no longer to be a major issue in the US”, it would soon become a big issue – a “feeding frenzy” – in the UK “when the inquiry takes off.”
It is clear, therefore, that on some level the UK government deliberately intervened in the Iraq Inquiry to protect US interests, however it is not clear whether the diplomatic cable has had any effect on the decision by the Inquiry to call in key governmental figures and witnesses once more.
Sir John Chilcot, Chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, has stated that the final report will be “full, thorough, evidence-based and frank”, and said he is “committed to taking the majority of this evidence in public.”
The report is to be published sometime in March. Sir Chilcot stated that the committee is “independent of government and will not shy away from criticising if we find fault or if we conclude that errors have been made. We are determined to produce a report that will be useful to future governments”
- WikiLeaks cable reveals secret pledge to protect US at Iraq inquiry (guardian.co.uk)
- UK ‘pledged to limit Iraq probe’ (bbc.co.uk)
- You: Blair ordered back to Iraq inquiry (guardian.co.uk)