Chilcot delayed until after election

Inquiry set up in 2009 to investigate build-up to Iraq war will take “some further months”, Sir John Chilcot says

By Dods Group

21 Jan 2015

The Chilcot Inquiry will not publish its report for “some further months”, the chairman of the review has confirmed today.

In a letter to the prime minister, Sir John Chilcot said the inquiry into the Iraq War had made “very substantial progress”, but that his conclusions would not be published before the general election.

“Until we have received and evaluated responses from all those who have been given the opportunity to respond, I cannot give an accurate estimate for how long it will then take to complete our work, but it is clear that will take some further months.

“I therefore see no realistic prospect of delivering our report to you before the General Election in May 2015.”

David Cameron has responded to the letter by saying he would have “liked to have seen your report published already”, but stressed that he could not intervene in the independent inquiry.

“It is important that the Inquiry remains fully independent of government and therefore the timetable and processes for completing your work are entirely for you to decide – not for the government. So I have to respect your decision and fully accept that it will not now be possible for you to submit your final report ... until after the Election.”

The prime minister also hit out at the last Labour government for failing to set up the inquiry earlier.

“Had the previous government established this inquiry when I first called for it, we would not be in this position today. But that cannot now be undone.”

It was confirmed this morning that the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway, has written to Sir John asking him to appear before MPs to explain the delays. 

The inquiry was set up in 2009 to look into the build-up to the Iraq war, the military action, and the aftermath of the invasion.

Nick Clegg has also written to Sir John to describe the delay as “incomprehensible”, and warn that the public may “assume the report is being sexed down” by people who are set to be criticised.

Backbench MPs have secured a Commons debate on the publication of the report next Thursday.

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