You, the jury: the independent verdict

Faced with the evidence compiled by Lord Butler, what conclusions would you have drawn? The Independent on Sunday put together a distinguished panel and asked its members to give their own judgements
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Indy Politics

Has justice been done? No. I think people should have been named. I have great regard for Robin Butler, who I know personally. He's very much in the British Oxbridge mandarin tradition. In circumstances like these, he's very discreet and urbane. I vastly more admire the way the Americans have tackled it, with named names and blunt speaking. It's vastly more admirable. Yes, people should be named and their relative responsibilities.

Corelli Barnett CBE, Historian, author and fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge

Has justice been done? No. I think people should have been named. I have great regard for Robin Butler, who I know personally. He's very much in the British Oxbridge mandarin tradition. In circumstances like these, he's very discreet and urbane. I vastly more admire the way the Americans have tackled it, with named names and blunt speaking. It's vastly more admirable. Yes, people should be named and their relative responsibilities.

Who should be held responsible? Without any question at all Alastair Campbell should have been singled out. He was the very key to it. He was in between Blair and the actual civil servants like Scarlett. His role should have been probed much more. Who took those caveats out? It's not a whitewash because in the mandarin language there's a great deal of criticism of the way Blair does government business. It could have been spelt out in far sharper terms, more individual terms.

What should happen next? It's now up to the political parties not to let these things drop. It's a matter for the British people. Once again we see that unlike the United States where a committee chooses its own remit, here we have the man who's likely to stand in the dock, the Prime Minister, actually defining the terms of the committee to investigate him. However good he was as a spy master, John Scarlett was quite obviously weak, easily manoeuvred by people like Campbell. So I think he's tainted.

The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke, Conservative MP and former Chancellor of the Exchequer

Has justice been done? No. I think Robin Butler concentrated on protecting the system against abuses in the future. It was an extremely clever report which revealed, for those who have read it, the way the intelligence service was misused by the policy making and PR part of the Government.

Who should be held responsible? I don't believe in the scapegoat approach. I do think the Prime Minister carries the major responsibility for taking us to war on what I believe were false grounds. John Scarlett is the other person who comes badly out of it. He should not have allowed Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell to have had the influence over drafting the dossier which it seems they obviously did have. I'm not going to join those calling for his head.

What should happen next? We must now continue holding the Prime Minister to account. The key thing is to stop the problems from getting any worse. People both in favour and against the war are surely united in wanting to produce a more stable and democratic Iraq. I'm very pessimistic. The prime minister of the country never has a more important role than when he's deciding whether or not to take the country into war. A prime minister who makes the wrong call on that can't normally expect to stay in office.

Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Has justice been done? No. The decision to invade Iraq was already made prior to putting together all the available intelligence. It was for this reason that all the caveats and qualifications were overlooked. It's important that the Prime Minister should have had full consultation with the Cabinet as well as seeking the approval of Parliament. In fact, information was withheld.

Who should be held responsible? That has to be the person who's at the head of government, the Prime Minister. The committee points out that serious mistake after serious mistake was made. Yet is also says that no one is responsible, so the issue has been left on one side. Not to identify a group or individual, that surely is the paradox of the century.

What should happen next? One would have thought the Government would have learnt from its mistakes, come out into the open and said yes, we have identified where we went wrong. Then - God forbid that it should ever happen again - we would have been able to learn for the future. It's extremely sad that such an important report that reveals so many mistakes and flaws. But I can see no evidence of a learning aspect here.

Rabbi Dame Julia Neuberger, Liberal Democrat peer, former member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life

Has justice been done? Yes. I think the Butler report is going to be a slow-burning thing. It ought to be sending messages to Blair and his colleagues that if you want to have cabinet government, it has to be done properly. What Butler has done is outline what proper standards in public life are about.

Who should be held responsible? Butler was right not to name individuals. It was not so much about trying to "nail" John Scarlett, as to say, "This is no way to do business." This is key. It's a sober report, but I think it's beautifully done.

What should happen next? I think Blair should take a deep breath and decide to have proper cabinet meetings with proper cabinet responsibilities. Enough of this informal, around-the-office, instant decision-making. That's not how to do business in public life. Butler doesn't show his anger; he shows where the problems really lie. It's a question of how we make decisions.

Anthony Scrivener QC, Leading barrister and former chairman of the Bar Council

Has justice been done? No. I think justice has been avoided. The main question was never asked. What was the role of the Government? Why was Alastair Campbell, a politician, put in charge of a sensitive committee? Butler found that the Government acted in good faith yet this was expressly left out of the original terms of reference and the inquiry hasn't heard any evidence on the issue. He never asked the question how the dossier turned out as it was. It was sexed up.

Who should be held responsible? The idea of collective responsibility is that everyone should leave their posts, not that no one does. Butler accepts that the dossier was inaccurate, yet never queries why the communications director of Labour is chairing the meeting. Isn't that rather significant? The Butler report [and its criticism of the way intelligence was used] seems to me, also, to undermine the whole of Hutton. No wonder the BBC guys are jumping around with joy.

What should happen next? John Scarlett should not be taking up his post as head of MI6. He has shown he can be leaned upon by politicians to change his views. He lacks the independence to fulfil the position.

William Shawcross, Writer and broadcaster. Author of 'Allies - the US, Britain and the War in Iraq'

Has justice been done? Yes. The Butler report shows that Tony Blair was right to go to war. There was no way the risk could be taken of allowing Saddam to remain. The choice in 2003 was not between containment and regime change, but between regime change and seeing Saddam welcomed back by his new Chinese, Russian and French allies. Sanctions were breaking down completely.

Who should be held responsible? The way the Butler committee has apportioned blame is entirely fair and sensible. The report showed that Blair did not lie. The intelligence was flawed, certainly, but it was flawed in every nation in the world. Every country in the UN Security Council voted in 2002 that Saddam still had the weapons and gave him a final chance to come clean.

What should happen next? We should get on with rebuilding Iraq and helping the Iraqi people to defeat the evil of the suicide bombers. Every Iraqi I know is glad that we got rid of Saddam. They have many criticisms of the occupation, but they believe there is now hope for their country - so long as the world continues to support them.

Interviews by Nicholas Pyke

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