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Tony Blair denies he delayed Chilcot Inquiry

The former Prime Minister said the publication of the report will allow him to restate his case on the Iraq war

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he “resents” claims that he has delayed the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.

The confidentiality of classified notes and conversations between the former Labour leader and then US President George Bush are claimed to be the reason for the four-year delay behind the report's publication.

But Mr Blair said on Tuesday that it is in his interest to know the findings of the report into the Iraq war, because it will allow him to “defend [his] position”. 

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday: “I don't know what the reason for the delay is because I'm not in charge of the inquiry and not in charge of the Government.

"All I can tell you it is not for me and I resent the suggestion that it is.

"I have got as much interest as anyone in seeing the inquiry publish its findings and then be able to go out and frankly restate my case and defend my position," he said.

His comments come after a letter in which Mr Blair allegedly wrote he would be “with” Mr Bush on “whatever [he] decide[s] to do” went missing, according to White House lawyers.

Mr Blair said: “Just so that it is absolutely clear, of course the inquiry has had all these documents for a long period of time.

"Obviously there are a whole set of issues of confidentiality that have to be resolved. As I understand it, the Government is resolving them, so let us wait and see.”"

The Chilcot Inquiry was established in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown to address controversies over Britain’s handling of the war.

The inquiry has previously said that it submitted 10 requests to the US to publish material, including 200 cabinet-level discussions, 25 notes from Mr Blair to Mr Bush and more than 130 records of conversations between either Mr Blair or Gordon Brown and Mr Bush.

Addressing the length delay, Prime Minister David Cameron said a fortnight ago that the report will be published by the end of the year, following what he branded a “frustrating” wait.

“My understanding is that they will be able to publish before the end of the year and I very much hope they can deliver on that timetable,” he said at the time.

“The public wants to see the answers of the inquiry and I think we shouldn’t have to wait too much longer,” Mr Cameron added.