Delaying publication of the Chilcot inquiry: Six reasons why critics are angry

Many politicians are exasperated that the inquiry has taken six years and believe the delays are inexplicable

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The latest in a long line of delays to the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War has been condemned by MPs and the relatives of servicemen killed in the conflict.

Sir John Chilcot insists that he cannot finish his work before the May general election because he must be “fair” to all those involved – meaning the people who will be criticised when he finally publishes his report.

But many politicians are exasperated that the inquiry has taken six years and believe the delays are inexplicable. There is also frustration in Whitehall, where senior civil servants are worried they will be blamed for a hold-up over which they have no control.

The Chilcot critics are angry because:

1. Sir John hoped his report would be published in “late 2010”.  It might not now emerge until five years after that.  Such a delay is inexcusable.

2. THREE  general elections will now have passed since the 2003 Iraq War before the public–and the families of the 179 British troops killed in Iraq-- finally get the official verdict into the American-led invasion supported so strongly by Tony Blair.

3. Many of the key players have already left frontline politics – including Mr Blair. Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary at the time of the war, will leave Parliament at the May election.

4. It seems to have taken months to send out draft sections of the report to those criticised, to give them a right of reply before the final version was published.  The suspicion in Whitehall is that the inquiry could have been completed by the May election if Sir John had got his skates on.

5. The cost of the six-year inquiry increased from £2.3m in 2010 to £7.5m in 2013 to more than £9m now.

6. The delay will fuel suspicions of an establishment whitewash at a time when public trust in the political system is at a low ebb.