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13-10-2009

Iraq Inquiry Committee members to meet bereaved families and Iraq veterans.

Veterans of the Iraq conflict and families of those who died or are missing in Iraq will meet members of the Iraq Inquiry in face-to-face meetings during October.

The meetings have been arranged to allow the families and those who served in Iraq to express their views personally to members of the Iraq Inquiry committee about the issues they think the Inquiry should focus on. The meetings will be held in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and Belfast.

The Inquiry team wrote to all of the British families who lost loved ones during the Iraq conflict asking them whether they wished to take part in the meetings. Around 50 families said they did. The Iraq Inquiry committee has also contacted organisations representing former and current military personnel, issuing an open invitation to people who served in Iraq during the conflict to take part in separate discussions.

Sir John Chilcot, the chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, said;

“We said right from the start that one of the Inquiry’s first priorities was to hear from the families of those who died during the conflict and others from the UK who were seriously affected, including those who served in Iraq.

“It’s an important part of our preparations - we want to know what they think the Inquiry’s priorities should be and hear about any concerns they may have. I’m encouraged that so many families have expressed a desire to be involved in the Inquiry process, either through these meetings or by setting out their thoughts in writing. The Committee looks forward to hearing their views.”

Since the Iraq Inquiry’s public launch the team have been examining thousands of documents from UK government departments in preparation for the public evidence hearings, which are due to start in late autumn. Announcements about the first phase of those hearings, including the dates, the venue and the witnesses, will be made in due course.

The Iraq Inquiry started work at the end of July 2009. It will examine the period from 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. It will consider the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish as accurately as possible what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that if the UK faces similar situations in future the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner and in the best interests of the country.