LIVE BLOG: Chilcot as it happens


Sir John Chilcot's inquiry into Britain's war in Iraq has been published, more than seven years after it was first commissioned

MEE staff's picture
Last update: 
May 23 May 2018 13:14 UTC

The long-awaited report by Sir John Chilcot, probing why Britain went to war in Iraq and what lessons can be learned, was released on Wednesday.  

The report has taken seven years to complete and has cost £10m.

The secret memo revealing Blair's support for war

Among the thousands of pages published today, one memo has attracted particular attention.

Sent from Tony Blair to George Bush in July 2002, 'Note on Iraq' starts with 'I will be with you, whatever' and ends with 'But the crucial issue is not when, but how'.

Read a breakdown of the rest of the memo here.

Iraqi refugees react to Chilcot Inquiry

Iraqi refugee Kais Al-Dabbagh told MEE's Charles B. Anthony that he had been "waiting nearly 13 years for an apology".

"It is a relief to see the leader of the Labour party to apologise and I'm really appreciative of Mr Corbyn of this" said Dabbagh who had lost two cousins during the Iraq war. 

Corbyn apologises on behalf of Labour Party

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who has long been an opponent of the Iraq war apologises on behalf of the Labour Party for taking Britain to war in Iraq.

(Source @CharlesBAnthony)

Corbyn making a press statement in response to Chilcot Inquiry

MEE's Charles B. Anthony is live at the Labour Press Conference where Jeremy Corbyn is making a statement in reaction to the Iraq Inquiry. Click here to listen live.


Tony Blair's statement

Here's the full statement made by Tony Blair earlier today. 

Ming Campbell: Blair's 'Judgement was poor'

Speaking to BBC News, Liberal Democrat peer Sir Ming Campbell said:

"Frankly the judgement was poor and misconceived and it has led to a vacuum in Iraq which has been filled by a civil war where 179 British soldiers have died.  The consequences of which was the 250 people who died two or three days ago in Baghdad. That shows you the state we are in right now. "

(Source BBC News)


Comment piece: "The Iraq war was born and raised in torture"

Research director of UK advocacy group CAGE UK Asim Qureshi, calls on Chilcot to recognise "that Britain went to war in Iraq based on falsified information and tortured confessions." 

In his comment piece for MEE Qureshi writes: 

"The story of torture in relation to Iraq is important and complicated, as it not only justified the war, but permitted an environment where torture was normalised. The DNA of the Iraq war was constructed through a story of torture for which there still has been no accountability."

Read more here

MEE dissects Tony Blair's statement

MEE's Graeme Baker dissects Tony Blair's statement posted earlier today:

Middle East Eye analyses Blair's prepared statement on the Chilcot report.

Responding to the publication of the Chilcot Report, Blair said:

“The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.

I note that the report finds clearly: 

- That there was no falsification or improper use of Intelligence (para 876 vol 4) 

MEE: Para 876 or volume 4 says this: "In April 2005, the ISG published additional material as Addendums to the Comprehensive Report." 

note from the ISG, the Iraq Survey Group, which was tasked by the UN to find Saddam Hussein's WMD, had found in "a very limited number of cases...  old chemical munitions produced before 1990". But the note goes on to say that many reports of chemical weapons in Iraq turned out to be "scams" and while it was still possible that weapons could be found, it "would judge very unlikely, that such a capability remains undiscovered". In addition to navigating the 2.6-million word Chilcot report, a casual observer would then be required to read the full 84-page report by the ISG to gain proper insight to Blair's argument that Chilcot had cleared him of falsifying evidence.

Read more here for the full article.

Iraqi politicians unaware of the Chilcot Inquiry publication

Seeking reaction to the Iraq Inquiry from political figures in Baghdad, MEE’s Suadad al-Sahly said that most were unaware of the publication of the report, which occurred on the first day of the holiday of Eid and with Baghdad still reeling from a bombing on Sunday that killed 250 people. 
“Even if they aware, they do not care because such reports would not change anything for them or their policies,” said al-Sahly.
Read the full article here as well as our latest update on the Karrada bombing here.

Corbyn to make press statement in a hour

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who opposed the Iraq war in 2003 will be making a brief press statement later today on the Chilcot inquiry. Earlier today in parliament Corbyn described the Iraq war as an "act of military aggression". 

Here's a clip from a speech he made in the run up to the Iraq war back in 2003. 

Blair: 'I took this decision with the heaviest of hearts'

Key points coming out of Blair's speech (that is still in full flow): 

  • Britain pushed the US to go back to the Security Council again and "Britain has continually tried not to act without the authority of the UN"
  • The US was going to war and to move with us or without us. 
  • "I took this decision with the heaviest of hearts"

Blair: 'We had to change policy after 9/11'

"The report accepts that after 9/11 the calculus of risk changed fundamentally. We believed we had to change policy….to eliminate the possibility of WMD and regimes coming together," Blair said. 

"Hussein’s was the only regime to use such weapons and his record of bloodshed suggested he was capable of …. Such actions."

Blair: 'Parliament and the cabinet were not misled'

“I can never agree that those who died or were injured made their sacrifice in vain. They fought in the defining global security struggle of the 21st century against the terrorism and violence… Their sacrifice should always be remembered with thanksgiving and honour….as it will be.

"I know some of the families cannot and don’t accept this is so. I know there are those who can never forget or forgive me for taking this decision and think I took it dishonestly. As the report makes clear, 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. However I accept that the report makes serious criticisms of the way decisions were made and, again, I accept full responsibility for this criticism even if I do not fully agree with them.

"Today…look at the history of that time so that those who passionately disagree will me, at least understand why I did what I did and learn lessons so that we can do better in the future."

Tony Blair speaking live (BBC)

Blair: 'World is a better place without Saddam'

In his first reaction to the Chilcot report, Tony Blair stresses that toppling Saddam continues to have been the right thing to do:

“It’s claimed by some that by removing Saddam we caused the terrorism today in the Middle East. And it would be better to keep him in power. I profoundly disagree. Saddam was himself a wellspring of terror, a threat to peace and his own people. If he had been left in power in 2003, then I believe he would have once again threatened world peace and when the Arab revolutions of 2011 began, he would have [fought off change]…with the same deadly consequences that we see in Syria today.

"Whereas at least in Iraq, with all of its challenges, we have today a government that is elected, recognised as internationally legitimate and is fighting terrorism. The world was, and is in my judgement, a better place without Saddam Hussein."

Blair: War was 'most agonising decision I took' as PM

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is speaking in London about the Chilcot report:

"The decision to go to war in Iraq and remove Saddam from power, in a coalition of over 40 countries, led by the USA, was the hardest, most momentous, most agonising decision I took in my 10 years as Prime Minister. For that decision today, I accept full responsibility – without exception and without excuses.

"I recognise that many in our country are angry over the war and in particular I feel deeply and sincerely, in a way that no words can properly convey, the grief and suffering of those who lost the ones they loved in Iraq – whether the members of our armed forces, the armed forces of other nations, or Iraqis.

"The negligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong. The aftermath turned out to be more hostile, detracted and bloody than ever we imagined. The collation had set out with facts… and encounter another and the nation whose people we wanted to set free from the evil of Saddam, became instead victim to sectarian terrorism."

Chilcot: MI6 based its reporting of Saddam's WMD on Sean Connery movie

Peter Oborne reacts to the Iraq Inquiry findings

MEE columnist and author of Not the Chilcot Report tells MEE that the Iraq Inquiry leaves the former PM Tony Blair without a 'leg to stand on' and proves that this was a 'war of aggression'. Read more here.

Amnesty Intl calls on UK to learn lessons from Chilcot and for war criminals to be 'prosecuted'

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International responding to the Chilcot Inquiry's findings:

“One way of showing that the UK government has tried to learn some of the lessons of Iraq would be for it to ensure that current investigations into allegations of unlawful killing and torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of the UK armed forces in Iraq are truly effective and robust. This must include a proper assessment as to the degree to which human rights violations were systemic and apportion responsibility at all levels, something that has been sorely absent to date.   

“Wherever there is sufficient admissible evidence, those suspected of criminal responsibility – no matter their rank or position – must be prosecuted in fair trials, while victims and their families must receive full reparation. The UK must also fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s preliminary examination into alleged crimes by UK nationals in Iraq from 2003 to 2008, including murder, torture and other ill-treatment.”




Chilcot report on intelligence failings by the UK government

Excerpts from the Chilcot Inquiry on the intelligence failings that lead up to the Iraq War:

“The statements prepared for, and used by, the UK government in public from late 2001 onwards conveyed more certainty that the JIC Assessments about Iraq’s proscribed activities and the potential threat they posed”.

Chilcot found that the JIC did not make clear to Blair that intelligence had not proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical or biological weapons or that efforts to develop nuclear weapons continued.

He concluded: “At no stage was the hypothesis that Iraq might no longer have chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or programs identified and examined by either the JIC or the policy community”

Corbyn: Iraq war was 'an act of military aggression'

Jeremy Corbyn, commenting on the publication of the report in parliament, said he had only had been given access to the document at 8am this morning.

He described the Iraq war as an “act of military aggression” that had long been regarded as illegal by international legal opinion, and had “divided this house and set the government of the day against  the majority of British people and the weight of global opinion.

“By any measure the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a catastrophe,” he said. “None of us who opposed the war should take any satisfaction [from the report]. We have to be saddened by what has been revealed and we must reflect on that.”

Stop the War calls findings from Iraq inquiry a 'damning indictment of Tony Blair'

The Stop the War Coalition in a Press Statement to MEE said:

"The Chilcot report is a damning indictment of Tony Blair and those around him in taking us to war in Iraq. It is clear that he used lies and deception to get his way, that the war was unnecessary and illegal and that everything was done to ensure it went ahead.

The victims are the Iraqis, those soldiers who died and were injured, but also the whole political system traduced by this process.

The anti-war movement and the millions who marched were vindicated by this report and we now demand justice."

Lindsey German: 'The government should find a way of prosecuting Blair'

Speaking to the Guardian's Damian Gayle, Lindsey German said this was "not the end but the beginning of the matter because Chilcot was so damning of Blair and the people around him that there has to be a process" for bringing charges against him, possibly impeachment. "In my view the government should find a way of prosecuting him..."

File @STWuk

Cameron and Corbyn clash in Parliament

Cameron agrees with Corbyn on there being a litany of failures leading up to the Iraq war and plans of reconstruction but disagrees that intervention in Iraq led to the growth of Al-Qaeda and sectarian forces in Iraq. 

Corbyn addressing Parliament

Key quotes from Corbyn's response to David Cameron in Parliament:

  • "Invading and occupying Iraq was probably the most significant foreign policy decision this parliament has taken."
  • "Iraq was an act of military aggression and deemed illegal according to overwhelming legal opion."
  • "The occupation festered a lethal sectarian and led to the catastrophe that exists today."
  • "None of us should take any satisfaction in this report" 

Cameron: Military not at fault

British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that: "The failures highlighted in this report is not the fault of the military but the planning that took place before a shot was fired."

'Taking country to war should be the last resort'

Prime Minister David Cameron tells Parliament that MPs who voted for war in Iraq have to take their "fair share" of the responsibility. 

He says that lessons that do need to be learnt include:

  • Taking country to war should be the last resort
  • Machinery of government is important and that is why we established the 'national security council' 

Human Rights Watch calls for further war crimes probes

Clive Baldwin, senior legal advisor at Human Rights Watch, said in a press statement:

“The publication of the Chilcot report should be a reminder that investigations into the hundreds of allegations of war crimes by UK nationals in Iraq are still far from being completed," he said. 

"These need to be finished quickly, fairly, and independently, so the innocent can be cleared and anyone responsible for war crimes be held criminally accountable, up to the highest level," Clive said. 

"If the UK authorities prove unwilling to even investigate senior military and political figures for potential responsibility for war crimes in Iraq, the International Criminal Court should factor this into their own inquiry.”

Cameron announces two days of debate on Iraq Inquiry

 Cameron has announced two full days of debate in parliament on the findings published by Sir John Chilcot in the Iraq Inquiry. 

Philippe Sands QC: 'Legal planning was unsatisfactory'

Philippe Sands QC, an expert in international law, told the BBC:

“Rather like the military planning, the legal planning was found to be unsatisfactory by Chilcot and his team," he said. "It is pretty devastating stuff.”

Sands said that he was initially “concerned about the level of questioning” during the inquiry but that his fears were “misplaced,” calling the report “thorough, fair and balanced”.

He said Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq was one of “gross recklessness.”

He concluded that his long-time argument that the decision was taken by Blair before informing cabinet was “now established beyond doubt.”

Blair is an 'insane fanatic and narcissist'

Author, comedian and long-time Iraq war critic Jeremy Hardy told MEE that he felt Blair was "insane" a "fanatic" and also a "narcissist" who blindly "supported any project the White House would have come up with". 

"The fact that the Labour Party is still in awe of this mad man and want [current Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn - who has been entirely vindicated today - to be replaced by someone more like the maniac who unleashed [the war] is extraordinary," he said. 

"It is not the way that politics should be decided - big countries deciding to re-order the world for their own whim. We cannot have a world order where big, well-armed, nations just decide who is going to be in power and then change their minds from year to year and kill 100,000s of civilians in the process. 

"Blair's god will deal with him - he is lacking any contrition or self-awareness and is zealous - but I think that he probably can't sleep at night. Not because of a sense of contrition but because of his narcissism and the fact that he hasn't come out of this looking like he had hoped. He is a legacy junkie. He wanted to go down in history as a hero and a great figure but he will go down in history as a maniac and that is what upsets him.