Chilcot: more delay

John Rentoul

Sir+John+Chilcot Chilcot: more delayI have no idea what is going on with the Chilcot inquiry, which now seems deadlocked in dispute with Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, who, with the support of the Prime Minister, refuses to allow it to publish Cabinet minutes and notes and transcripts of phone calls between Tony Blair and George Bush.

Heywood is right to maintain the principle that Cabinet discussions and communications between heads of governments should remain confidential.

Sir John Chilcot (pictured) was wrong to say, in 2011: “The question when and how the prime minister made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq, and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its [the Iraq Inquiry's] considerations.”

I disagree, and was alarmed that Chilcot could appear to subscribe to this simple-minded anti-war myth. Blair had said in public that he supported US-led military action should it prove necessary. There were no “commitments” he could have given in private, at any time, that could have bound the British Parliament in its decision.

The Chilcot panel must know this, so I do not see why it wants the documents published.

I can only assume that it suits Chilcot to delay publication of the report, to mitigate the cries of whitewash when he fails to come to the “right” conclusion, just as all the inquiries before him failed to do.

PS. Much overlooked is this letter from Sir John Chilcot to the Prime Minister last year, in which he sets out the chapter headings of his report and summarises what is in it.

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  • Kippers

    The word “necessary” is doing a lot of work there, Mr Rentoul.

  • chrishaines47

    Overheard when I stood next to the Law Lords “Kelly was murdered”. They kinda have the drop on you John. Give it up.

  • porkfright

    My view-something interesting and most unexpected will happen after the report’s publication.

  • Pacificweather

    “I have no idea what is going on with the Chilcot inquiry”

    In the sense that the general public are not privy to the machinations of politicians that is true but a superfluous statement.

    In the sense of what we understand full well what is going on it is a statement of the most egregious nativity from a political correspondent.

    It is perfectly right, is it John, that an inquiry must not inquire in to the substance of the matter related to the leaders of two democracies? Do you think that because neither was actually democratically elected? You are embedded with politicians to the extent that is has obliterated your curiosity and objectivity. In this matter, you no longer serve your readership.

  • porkfright

    Dominic Sandbrook, Mail online, today, 8th Nov., is very interesting on this matter.

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