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Foreign Affairs select committee questions Sir John Chilcot over Iraq report delay

Foreign Affairs select committee questions Sir John Chilcot over Iraq report delay

Categories: Latest News

Thursday February 05 2015

BBC News reports on the evidence session held on Tuesday by the Foreign Affairs select committee with the chair of the Chilcot Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, as part of its hearings into the Progress of the Iraq Inquiry.

The committee held a “one-off” session with Sir John to discuss “the preparation of his report and the obstacles that remain before he can submit it to the Prime Minister.”

The delay to the publication of the report was debated in the Commons last week after a group of MPs urged the backbench committee to schedule a session calling on the inquiry “to publish a timetable for publication and an explanation of the causes of the delay by 12 February 2015.”

Sir John, in his evidence to the select committee gave as reasons the underestimation of the time that would be needed to study 150,000 documents; the recent death of a member of the inquiry after prolonged illness; and the Maxwellisation process, which allows a period of time for those likely to be criticised in the final report a chance to respond to the claims therein.

Until the Maxwellisation process is concluded the inquiry’s findings and details from the report could not be placed in the public domain. Sir John told the MPs on the foreign affairs committee, “What I can’t say, until the Maxwellisation process is complete, is that I will be able to say anything useful to the prime minister or to the families. Once that is complete it is a different matter.”

Sir John responded to questions about the delay to the report, given that the Inquiry ceased taking evidence in 2011, “The risk of either arousing false hopes or false expectations either way outweighs for me the powerful appetite, for all sorts of often good reasons, to know when the report is likely to become available.”

“What I am determined to do is to get the report to the prime minister and out as soon as we can,” he added.

The Times reported last year that the report was sending “shockwaves” through Whitehall following on from earlier claims, in The Independent, that the report would challenge the official position.

Sir John faced questions from MPs on the committee about the impact of the delayed report on the families who had lost loved ones in the war in Iraq. He was also asked whether those who had received letters under the Maxwellisation process were responsible for the delays to which he answered, “If people exceed reasonableness… we have to ourselves exercise a judgement on what’s reasonable and what’s not and if it’s not reasonable, we have to deal with that the best we can.”

The unlikely publication of the report before the general election has garnered much criticism from MPs and Lords with the former Foreign Secretary, Lord Douglas Hurd, saying the matter had gone “beyond questions of mere negligence and forgivable delay” and was a “scandal”.


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