THIS WEDNESDAY, the long-awaited Chilcot Report on the UK’s role in the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq will be published. But what will it say, and why has it taken so long to say it? Here is everything you need to know.
On what is the inquiry reporting?
The purpose of the Inquiry is to examine Britain’s involvement in the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, including the way decisions were made and actions taken. The Inquiry is considering the period from 2001 up to the end of July 2009. The publication of the final report this week has been beset by delays, angering the families of the 179 British servicemen and women who died during the conflict. In particular, the inquiry will report on whether a 2002 dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been “sexed up” to justify military action.
Who is Sir John Chilcot?
Cambridge-educated sir John, 77, is a career civil servant who retired in 1997. Amongst other government posts, he served as Private Secretary to Home Secretaries Roy Jenkins, Merlyn Rees, and William Whitelaw, and to the Head of the Civil Service, William Armstrong. His appointment to head the Iraq inquiry was announced in June 2009.
Who picked the other members of the inquiry?
The former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, appointed the members of the Committee. Opposition parties were consulted.
Is the Government co-operating with the Inquiry?
Mr Brown promised that “no British document and no British witness” would be beyond the scope of the Inquiry. But there has been much argument between Chilcot and the government about what exactly the inquiry can publish, particularly concerning Tony Blair’s discussions with President George W Bush.
Will the Inquiry say whether anybody should face criminal charges and will it be able to apportion blame?
The inquiry has no legal power to charge anyone with an offence, but it can say whether it believes mistakes were made, and whether any issues could have been dealt with better. It is likely to strongly criticise Mr Blair’s role in the invasion, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague could then act separately on any recommendations. However, although some MPs have called for Mr Blair to stand trial for war crimes, the ICC appears to have ruled this out.
Jeremy Corbyn is reportedly preparing to “crucify” the former leader of his party for his role in leading Britain into the conflict - a motivation which could well be behind his refusal to stand down as leader in the face of last week’s rebellion by Labour MPs.
Who else is implicated?
As well as the former Prime Minister, British soldiers could be accused of abuse and torture. But Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former spin doctor, will reportedly be cleared of claims that he “sexed up” the dossier on weapons of mass destruction.
Blair’s possible impeachment
A number of MPs led by Alex Salmond may try to use an ancient law to “impeach” Mr Blair - a mechanism last used in the early 19th Century when a Tory minister was charged for misappropriating official funds. It is seen as a way of preventing Mr Blair from holding office in the future.
THE CHILCOT REPORT IN NUMBERS
• 6 - Years since the Chilcot Inquiry was launched, although it will be closer to seven by the time the report is ready for publication.
• 2,500 - Days between June 15 2009, when the inquiry was announced on by then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and April 18 2016, when the report was expected to be ready for private inspection and security check.
• 3 - Foreign secretaries to have been in the post since the inquiry was launched - David Miliband under Mr Brown, and William Hague and Philip Hammond under David Cameron.
• 2 million - Words estimated to be included in the report, making it almost four times longer than Leo Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace.
• 10 million - Estimated cost, in pounds, of the inquiry as of January this year.
• 179 - UK military personnel that died during the Iraq war.