Foreign Secretary Miliband faces Chilcot inquiry panel

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Indy Politics

Foreign Secretary David Miliband is today giving evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War in what is expected to be its last public hearing before the general election.

As Foreign Secretary from 2007, Mr Miliband presided over the final stages of UK military involvement in Iraq and the handover of control of the south of the country to homegrown and US authorities.

At the time of the US-led invasion in 2003, he was a junior education minister and played little role in the debate over war, though he backed the deployment of British troops in the key House of Commons vote on the eve of hostilities.

Mr Miliband has publicly acknowledged that "mistakes" were made in Iraq, but insisted that they should not discourage the UK from fostering democracy around the world.

He yesterday hailed the parliamentary elections held in Iraq as a sign of the "significant democratic progress" made since the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein.

Mr Miliband is likely to be questioned about the process of post-conflict reconstruction and normalisation in Iraq.

Also being grilled is Sir Bill Jeffrey, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence between 2005 and 2009, who is likely to be asked about the funding of equipment for troops on the frontline in Iraq.

Giving evidence to the Inquiry on Friday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown strongly rejected allegations that, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had failed to provide the armed forces with the resources they needed in Iraq.

"Every request that military commanders made to us for equipment was answered. No request was ever turned down," said the PM.

But he was accused of being "disingenuous" by two former chiefs of defence staff, who said that the Treasury in fact left the MoD billions of pounds short of the money it needed to fight two wars.

Admiral Lord Boyce said: "It's just not the case that the Ministry of Defence was given everything it needed. There may have been a 1.5% increase in the defence budget but the MoD was starved of funds."