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Parliament debates motion on causes of delay to Chilcot report

Parliament debates motion on causes of delay to Chilcot report

Categories: Latest News

Thursday January 29 2015

Parliament is this afternoon discussing the long-overdue report by the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s role in the US-led invasion of Iraq after a group of MPs submitted a request to the Commons backbench committee to table a debate on the issue a couple of weeks ago.

David Davis MP, along with fellow MPs Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General, Norman Baker and Paul Flynn, sponsored the debate “calling on Chilcot to report within a matter of weeks”.

Sir John Chilcot has already advised the Prime Minister that the report will not be published before the general election despite attempts to make the report public before the purdah session descends, which prevents materials such as the Chilcot report being published too close to the date of an election.

Opening today’s debate, Davis called on the Chilcot Inquiry “to publish a timetable for publication and an explanation of the causes of the delay by 12 February 2015.”

He added, “The second Iraq war led to the deaths of more than 4,800 allied soldiers, 179 of them British. The lowest estimate of Iraqi civilian fatalities is 134,000, but plausible estimates put that number four times higher. So let us be clear—at least 134,000 innocent people died. The war created 3.4 million refugees, half of whom fled the country. It cost the British taxpayer £9.6 billion and it cost the American taxpayer $1,100 billion.

“The war has done untold damage to the reputation of the west throughout the middle east, and indeed among Muslim populations both at home and abroad. Initiated to protect the west from terrorism, it has in fact destroyed the integrity of the Iraqi state and triggered a persistent civil war that has created the conditions for perhaps the worst terrorist threat yet to the west—ISIL. It has done huge harm to the self-confidence and unity of the west, neutering our foreign policy. The war was, with hindsight, the greatest foreign policy failure of this generation, and I say that as someone who voted for it. So that is why the Chilcot inquiry was set up.”

Davis went on to give examples of inquiry’s set up elsewhere to look into government decisions to go to war and the speed with which such inquiries have reported back their findings, comparing this to the lengthy drawn out process that the Chilcot report has seen to date.

Davis went further, objecting to the length of time which has been afforded to those who are likely to be criticised in the final report to consult legal advice, the so called Maxwellisation process. Davis said, “Those due to be criticised in the final report are being allowed lengthy legal consultation. Although this is a necessary part of the process, strict time controls are needed. It cannot be right that those who are to be criticised can delay publication for their own benefit.”

The motion, if passed in Parliament, would see pressure applied by MPs for the report to be published before the election if the “within weeks” timeframe is honoured.


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