THE long-awaited report into the Iraq War will blame for Britain’s role in the conflict on a much a wider circle of ministers and officials than had been previously expected, it has been claimed.
According to reports in a national paper, the inquiry, led by the retired Whitehall mandarin Sir John Chilcot, will heavily criticise senior figures beyond Tony Blair and the former prime minister’s closest advisers.
Among those who could be in focus are Jack Straw, the foreign secretary at the time of the invasion; Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence select committee; Sir Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6; Clare Short, then international development secretary and Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary.
It comes amid growing fury from relatives of those who died in the war and politicians over the delays in the publication of the report.
Sir John has blamed it on the process of “Maxwellisation”, which seeks responses from those who face criticism, had been lengthened because of the broad number of those under fire, the paper said.
Sir John, who has asked for more resources to complete the process, has warned that it will not be published this year despite beginning six years ago, but MPs have suggested that they may vote to force publication.
The delay in publication has been a growing source of frustration for families of British soldiers who died as well as Prime Minister David Cameron, who has demanded a timetable for publication be set out “pretty soon”.
Sir John has insisted his inquiry - launched in 2009 - was making “significant progress” but has not set a date for the publication of his findings.
A Guardian said a source close to the inquiry suggested while military decisions after the invasion in 2003 will be called into question, “the bulk of the criticism would be directed less towards the military than others involved”.
Meanwhile, Sir Stanley Burton, Lord Justice of Appeal between 2008 and 2012, said the risk of a judicial challenge was “exaggerated”, as there was no appeal process by which the courts could rule on specific findings.