Amidst howls of “whitewash” from media commentators and interested observers of all political hues, it seems the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry in to the Iraq war are finally to be published by the end of this year.
The Inquiry, Chaired by Sir John Chilcot ran from autumn 2009 to February 2011. Their Report is expected to run to several thousand pages with the total cost incurred from the date of the establishment of the hearings: “on 15th June 2009 up to 31st March 2012 … £6,129,000.”
As of 16th May this year: “ On the present timetable, the Inquiry may incur further costs of some £2 million.”(1)
From June 2013 to November 2013 the Inquiry: “submitted ten requests covering some two hundred Cabinet-level discussions and twenty five Notes” from Tony Blair to President Bush “and more than one hundred and thirty records of conversations between either” Tony Blair or subsequent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush.(2)
Finally, on the 28th May Sir John published his letter (3,pdf) to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood recording their:
“agreement on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet level discussions between the (former) UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States which the Inquiry has asked to use in its Report … My colleagues and I judge that this material is vital to the public understanding of the Inquiry’s conclusions.”
In the letter he also recalls some of the hurdles that have been put in the Inquiry’s path by the British government, past and present.
Sir Jeremy (NB: who was Private Secretary to Tony Blair prior to the 2003 invasion) appears to have followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Sir Gus O’Donnell who: “wrote to the Inquiry in January 2011 (making) clear that there was no prospect of reaching agreement that notes from Mr. Blair or records of discussions” (between him and President Bush) “should be disclosed in their entirety, even with redactions. Accordingly, the requests … submitted last summer were for permission to disclose quotes or gists of the content. We have concluded they are sufficient to explain our conclusions.”