The Iraq Inquiry has launched a public ballot for seats in the hearing room when Tony Blair gives evidence to the Inquiry.
Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said;
“There has been considerable interest from members of the public wanting to know how to get a seat for this particular hearing. Given the potential demand, we recognise the importance of providing people with certainty about whether or not they will be able to get into the hearings, particularly those who need to travel long distances. We believe the fairest way to do this is to allocate seats by ballot.”
The timetable is published on the Iraq Inquiry website one week in advance, normally on a Monday. The specific day on which Mr Blair will give evidence will be announced in the normal way. To help people decide whether they wish to participate in the ballot, the Inquiry has confirmed that it will be in the fortnight commencing 25 January, and that Mr Blair will appear for a full day (i.e. two sessions of approximately three hours). The Inquiry has decided to run two separate ballots, one for the morning session and one for afternoon of the hearing to maximise access.
In view of the particularly high level of interest in Mr Blair’s evidence from many of the families of those Armed Forces personnel and British civilians who died or are missing in Iraq, the Inquiry has set aside around a third of the seats in the room for family members. They will be allocated in a separate ballot.
Sir John added;
“We’ve met a number of families as part of our work and many have asked about this particular session. We’ve taken into account their views in making the arrangements and the need to be fair to all those with an interest in this process, including the witnesses”
Ballot forms can be downloaded here or requested from the Inquiry. The closing date for applications is 15 January 2010. Completed forms should be returned by post to:
35 Great Smith Street,
London, SW1P 3BQ.