Senior MPs back Iraq investigation

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Tony Blair is under pressure to agree to a full-scale inquiry into the build-up to the Iraq war and the continuing problems in the country since the conflict.

Senior MPs from all parties tabled a Commons motion yesterday, calling for a special committee of Privy Councillors to review the Government's actions. As members of the Privy Council, they would be allowed access to the intelligence reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons on which Mr Blair based his case for action. The motion has been tabled by Douglas Hogg, a former Tory cabinet minister. Supporters hope that 200 MPs may sign the motion, which would normally secure a Commons debate and vote on such an inquiry.

But Mr Blair is trying to block the move. His spokesman said: "We have had four inquiries already into the Iraq war which have been extremely thorough"

The call came as a study by the Oxford Research Group warned British troops could be embroiled in Iraq for decades. It said that the presence of US forces in the country had been a "gift" to al-Qa'ida, saying the group had won recruits by portraying it as a neo-Christian occupation of a major Islamic state.

In the High Court today, relatives of some of the 98 British troops killed during and since the conflict will challenge the Government's refusal to hold an independent inquiry into the legality of the war.

In another Commons motion, the Government has been urged to publish a transcript of a conversation between Mr Blair and George Bush in which the US President is alleged to have suggested bombing the Qatar headquarters of the Arab television station al-Jazeera. The Prime Minister is reported to have dissuaded the President at their White House meeting in April last year.

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, has warned British newspapers and broadcasters that they could be in breach of the Official Secrets Act if they publish details of the document. A former civil servant and former Labour MP's researcher have been charged under the Act in connection with its leaking.