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12-01-2011

Ballot drawn for seats at Tony Blair’s public hearing

A ballot to allocate seats in the hearing room for Tony Blair's appearance at the Iraq Inquiry on January 21st took place on Monday 10 January. All the people who were successful in the ballot will be notified in the next few days.

There are 60 seats in the hearing room, with a third reserved for family members who lost loved ones in Iraq. Each of the bereaved families could apply for up to two tickets. The ballot for family members received 24 entries, 44 tickets were requested (20 pairs and four individuals). After 20 seats had been allocated the remaining 24 were added to the separate public ballot, which received 167 entries from members of the public. 14 families will be represented in the hearing room on the day of Mr Blair’s public hearing.

The other ten families who applied but were not successful will be guaranteed a seat in a private viewing room at the Inquiry venue if they wish. There is also an additional viewing facility for the public who entered the ballot, did not get a seat in the hearing room but had expressed an interest in watching from a separate room at the QEII.

The ballot was overseen by Karamjit Singh CBE, who is currently the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman and the Social Fund Commissioner for both Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Mr Singh was asked to provide independent oversight of the ballot and confirm that it was conducted in a fair and transparent manner. Mr Singh has signed an undertaking to this effect.

Only those named individuals with tickets will be able to gain entry to the QEII conference centre on the day of the hearing. Anyone who was unsuccessful in the ballot will be able to watch the proceedings on the internet via the Inquiry's website. It is also likely that the main UK broadcasters will show extended coverage of the Tony Blair hearing on their news channels.