Sturgeon urges unity in call for Chilcot publication

The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War and its aftermath was announced in June 2009 and concluded its hearings in February 2011. Picture: Getty
The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War and its aftermath was announced in June 2009 and concluded its hearings in February 2011. Picture: Getty
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NICOLA Sturgeon has urged her political opponents to join her in calling for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War to be published before the May general election.

The First Minister has written to Labour’s Jim Murphy, the Tories’ Ruth Davidson, the Lib Dems’ Willie Rennie and the Greens’ Patrick Harvie.

The timing of Sir John Chilcot’s report has become a key issue in the run-up to May’s poll, as its contents are expected to be highly critical of Tony Blair and his New Labour government’s decision to go to war in Iraq.

Advisers to Labour leader Ed Miliband are said to be unnerved at the prospect of the report being made public before the general election, as it would remind voters of the hugely controversial nature of a previous Labour government.

However, another school of thought believes getting its contents into the open would allow Miliband to distance himself from the excesses of past Labour regimes.

Last night Murphy said he favoured “the earliest possible publication” of the report, but declined to say whether he thought it should be done before the election.

Sturgeon said: “The Chilcot Inquiry was announced in June 2009 – covering the run-up to the Iraq War, the military action itself and its aftermath – and concluded its hearings in February 2011, nearly four years ago.

“Years have since passed, and the public still await publication of this report into the UK’s worst foreign policy disaster of modern times.

“The Iraq War, which Tony Blair’s Labour government dragged us into on the basis of a false prospectus about weapons of mass destruction – was responsible for the deaths of 179 UK service personnel, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

“The war also fundamentally undermined trust in the UK system of government, and publication of Chilcot in the earliest possible course is surely essential in order that lessons can be learned and applied, and responsibility allocated.”

She added: “I believe the delay to be a scandal, and that we as political leaders in Scotland should stand together and issue a joint call for the publication of Chilcot prior to the general election in May.”

Murphy said: “I think it is right that there is the earliest possible publication of the report.”