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08-12-2010

Iraq Inquiry will take further public evidence

Sir John Chilcot has provided an update on the progress of the Iraq Inquiry and its next steps, including a new round of public hearings.

Since the end of the public hearings in July, the Inquiry has been hard at work. In September the Inquiry published an update of recent activities. This summary can be found on the Iraq Inquiry website. It includes the Inquiry’s visit to Iraq, further private hearings, meeting military veterans, reviewing more than 30 submissions from international lawyers as well as analysing the vast documentary record and cross referencing this with the oral testimony.

Sir John Chilcot said

“As we draft our report it is clear that there are some areas where we need further detail. We will, therefore, be seeking further evidence on those matters. I am committed to taking the majority of this evidence in public. In some cases we will be writing to witnesses or government departments asking them to provide a written statement of events, responding to specific questions set out by the Committee. In other cases we will be taking oral evidence.”

The Iraq Inquiry will be holding a further round of public hearings in the QEII conference centre between 18 January and 4 February 2011. An initial list of individuals who have been called to give evidence is:

NameRelevant Role
The Rt Hon. Tony Blair Prime Minister, 1997 – 2007
Admiral the Lord Boyce GCB OBE DL Chief of the Defence Staff 2001-2003
John Buck Director for Iraq 2003-2004
Tom McKane Deputy Head of Defence and Overseas Secretariat, 2001-2002
Sir Gus O’Donnell, KCB Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, 2005 to date
Stephen Pattison Head of UN Department, 2001-2003 and Director for International Security 2004 – 2007
Sir David Richmond KBE CMG Deputy UK Special Representative to Iraq, 2003-04; UK Special Representative to Iraq, 2004; and Director General Defence and Intelligence, FCO, 2004-07
The Rt Hon. Jack Straw MP Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2001 – 2006
Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy GCB CBE DSO UK’s Air Component Commander for Op Telic One 2003; Chief of Joint Operations (CJO) 2004 – 2006, Chief of the Air Staff 2006-2009
Lord Turnbull of Enfield GCB Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, 2002 – 2005
Sir Stephen Wall GCMG LVO Prime Minister’s Adviser on European Issues and Head of the Cabinet Office’s European Secretariat, 2000 – 2004
Lord Wilson of Dinton GCB Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, 1998 – 2002

These hearings will be open to the general public. Given the level of public interest anticipated in the appearance of the Rt Hon. Tony Blair, the Inquiry will be holding a public ballot to allocate seats. Details for this can be found on the Iraq Inquiry website

As before, the precise timetable for each week of the public hearings will be announced a week in advance.

The Inquiry has also requested written evidence from the following individuals:

NameRelevant Role
Lord Bach of Lutterworth Minister for Defence Procurement, June 2001 – May 2005
Air Chief Marshal Sir Anthony Bagnall GBE, KCB Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, 2001 - 2005
The Rt Hon. The Lord Drayson Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support, 2005 - 2007
The Rt Hon. The Lord Goldsmith Attorney General, 2001 - 2007
Dr Brian Jones Head of the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Technical Intelligence Branch, Defence Intelligence Staff 1987-2003
Major General Albert Whitley Senior British Land Adviser to Coalition Forces and Land Component Commander, 2002 - 2003
John Williams Head of News Department, FCO, 2002 - 2003
Lord Williams of Baglan Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2002-2003

The Inquiry will publish this evidence on our website, unless there are exceptional reasons (such as national security) why this would not be possible.

Sir John said

“Our commitment to transparency has to be balanced with the very real responsibility to avoid harm. I want to be absolutely clear that the protocols that we have agreed were put in place to protect national security, international relations and the personal security of individuals. They are not there to prevent embarrassment.”

Since May 2009, the Inquiry has heard from more than 30 witnesses in private. Further details are given on the Iraq Inquiry website. The Inquiry is committed to explaining in public what has been heard in private. In the New Year, the Inquiry will start to make public as much as possible of the evidence from its private hearings with the publication of several redacted transcripts on the Inquiry’s website.

As the Inquiry has previously stated, the submissions from international lawyers will be published alongside the report.

Concluding Sir John said

“My colleagues and I remain committed to producing a full and frank report based on the evidence we have before us. We are independent of government and will not shy away from criticising if we find fault or if we conclude that errors have been made. We are determined to produce a report that will be useful to future governments. Writing it will take time but we will finish our work as soon as possible and present it to the Prime Minister for debate in Parliament within the coming months.”