Tony Blair was not straight with the UK public over the Iraq War, says Sir John Chilcot

Investigator had concluded ex-PM presented the case for war with ‘a certainty which was not justified’

Ryan Wilkinson
Thursday 06 July 2017 15:12
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The former premier has long denied that he took Britain to war on the basis of a ‘lie’
The former premier has long denied that he took Britain to war on the basis of a ‘lie’

Tony Blair was not “straight with the nation” about the run-up to the Iraq war, Sir John Chilcot has said.

The chairman of the public inquiry into the conflict that started in 2003, which found the former Prime Minister had presented the case for war with unjustified certainty, said Mr Blair had been “emotionally truthful” in his account of events leading up to the war.

In an interview with the BBC, Sir John was then asked if Mr Blair was as truthful with him and the public as he should have been during the seven-year inquiry.

He replied: “Can I slightly reword that to say I think any prime minister taking a country into war has got to be straight with the nation and carry it, so far as possible, with him or her.

“I don't believe that was the case in the Iraq instance.”

A spokesman for Mr Blair told the BBC that “all these issues” had been dealt with.

Sir John’s report, published in July last year, found that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” at the time of the invasion of his country in 2003, and the war was fought on the basis of “flawed” intelligence.

While giving evidence to the inquiry, Mr Blair denied he had taken the country to war on the basis of a “lie” over Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Asked if he felt Mr Blair had given the fullest version of events to the inquiry, Sir John said: “I think he gave an – what was – I hesitate to say this, rather, but I think it was, from his perspective and standpoint, emotionally truthful and I think that came out also in his press conference after the launch statement.

“I think he was under – as you said just now – very great emotional pressure during those sessions ... He was suffering. He was deeply engaged. Now in that state of mind and mood you fall back on your instinctive skills and reactions, I think.”

In a now infamous claim, Mr Blair told MPs Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, and later said intelligence showed the Iraqi tyrant could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes.

Sir John’s report found Mr Blair presented the case for war with “a certainty which was not justified” based on “flawed” intelligence about the country’s supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which was not challenged as it should have been.

The report said the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted and military action was not a last resort.

Following the report’s publication, Mr Blair said, while the Chilcot report contained “serious criticisms”, it showed “there were no lies, parliament and the cabinet were not misled, there was no secret commitment to war, intelligence was not falsified and the decision was made in good faith”.

PA

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