Families ‘let down’ by latest Iraq report delay

Sir John Chilcot says security checks are necessary. Pictrure: AFP/Getty

Sir John Chilcot says security checks are necessary. Pictrure: AFP/Getty

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The mother of a Scottish soldier killed in Iraq has accused Sir John Chilcot of “letting down” relatives of those who died in the conflict after he announced his report will not be published until next summer.

Rose Gentle, whose Royal Highland Fusilier son Gordon, 19, was killed in a bomb attack in Basra in 2004, said she was “disappointed” by the news that relatives will have to wait almost another year for the report from the inquiry which has been already running for six years.

Ms Gentle, from Glasgow, set up the Military Families Against The War group and was present at the inquiry on the day former prime minister Tony Blair gave evidence.

She said: “We thought it should be out a lot sooner than this. I thought it would be out by the end of the year, because they have everything there.

“It’s another let-down. It’s another few months to wait and suffer again.”

The former Whitehall mandarin Sir John said the report would be made available to officials for “national security checking” and preparation for publication once it is completed.

The process is required to ensure the government’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the protection of UK national security “will not inadvertently be breached by publication of the inquiry’s report as a whole”, he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron joined relatives in expressing his disappointment over the delay.

Mr Cameron pointed out the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killing of civilians in Londonderry by members of the Parachute regiment in January 1972 took just two weeks to complete in 2004 and said he expected the process for the Iraq report to “take no longer than this”.

He added: “Whilst it is welcome that there is now a clear end in sight for your inquiry, I am disappointed – and I know the families of those who served in Iraq will also be disappointed – that you do not believe it will be possible logistically to publish your report until early summer.”

Tony Blair, who ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, appeared before the inquiry twice.

His spokesman said: “Tony Blair has always wanted the inquiry to report as soon as it properly can and he looks forward to responding.

“Mr Blair also wants to make it clear that the timetable of the inquiry and the length of time it will have taken to report is not the result either of issues over the correspondence between him as Prime Minister and (US) President [George W] Bush, or due to the Maxwellisation 
process.”

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