Tag Archive: Chilcot report

Report falls short of labelling former PM a war criminal despite protests

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SIX YEAR WAR: The death toll from the Iraq war stood in the hundreds of thousands and included 174 British troops

SIX YEAR WAR: The death toll from the Iraq war stood in the hundreds of thousands and included 174 British troops

Blair slammed in Chilcot report

FURTHER CONTROVERSY: Tony Blair’s legalisation of the war was labelled as ‘unsatisfactory’ in the Chilcot Report, which is heavily critical of the former Prime Minister

FURTHER CONTROVERSY: Tony Blair’s legalisation of the war was labelled as ‘unsatisfactory’ in the Chilcot Report, which is heavily critical of the former Prime Minister

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says he had the country in his ‘best interests’ when opting to take military action against Saddam Hussein, following the publication of the seven-year inquiry into the Iraq War.

The Chilcot Report, as it is known, provides a scathing verdict on the UK’s involvement in the US-led invasion of Iraq and says Blair relied on ‘flawed intelligence’ in the build up of the deployment of British troops.

The way the war was legally authorised was also labelled as ‘unsatisfactory’, with the original justification for war – that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction – eventually proving to be overhyped.

During the report’s release this past week, former civil servant and inquiry chairman, John Chilcot, said: “It is an account of an intervention which went badly wrong, with consequences to this day.”

WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS: 45,000 British troops were sent to Iraq to support the US-led invasion

WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS: 45,000 British troops were sent to Iraq to support the US-led invasion

At 2.6 million words, the report took seven years to complete. The inquiry was given unprecedented access to confidential government documents during the investigation and took longer to compile than the length of the war in Iraq.

In an almost two hour defence of his actions this week, Blair explained his decision to back Bush and go to war alongside the United States in March 2003, at a time when the inquiry said Saddam posed no imminent threat.

CAUSE FOR WAR: Blair claimed that Saddam Hussein had access to weapons of mass destruction – something the Chilcot Report says was unjustified

CAUSE FOR WAR: Blair claimed that Saddam Hussein had access to weapons of mass destruction – something the Chilcot Report says was unjustified

“I did not mislead this country,” he told reporters. “There were no lies, there was no deceit, there was no deception.

“But there was a decision, and it was a controversial decision ... to remove Saddam and to be with America. I believe I made the right decision and the world is better and safer as a result of it.”

Sir John Chilcot’s report also revealed that Blair wrote to then US President, George W Bush, some eight months prior to the invasion, to offer his backing before UN weapons inspectors had even completed their work.

“I will be with you, whatever,” he signed it.

45,000 British troops, of which 174 were killed, were sent to battle in Iraq when peace options had not been exhausted, the inquiry also revealed. Over 150,000 Iraqi civilians also lost their lives.

It is figures such as these which have led to many critics calling for Blair to be tried as a war criminal with Blair responding by describing the deaths as a ‘profound regret’.

“Above all, I will pay tribute to our Armed Forces,” he said in a statement. “I will express my profound regret at the loss of life and the grief it has caused the families, and I will set out the lessons I believe future leaders can learn from my experience.”

To those who say he lied about his reasoning to send British troops to Iraq, he added: “[The report should] lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit.”

POLITICAL LEADER: Calls have been made for Tony Blair to be tried as a war criminal

POLITICAL LEADER: Calls have been made for Tony Blair to be tried as a war criminal

The only Labour prime minister to win three general elections, Blair was in office for 10 years until 2007 and was hugely popular in his heyday, but Iraq has severely tarnished his reputation and legacy.

Outside the press conference, where Chilcot presented the findings, protestors gathered with many chanting “Tony Blair, war criminal.”

Reg Keys, whose son, 20-year-old Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, was killed in Iraq, spoke to reporters.

He said: “We all know who the key players are ... who took part in this most shambolic episode in British politics. We would like to see all those key players face some form of accountability.”

He added: “If that's through the legal channels, then we will look at that and see what's viable and appropriate. It has been passed over to lawyers.”

NO REGRETS: A statement from Former US President, George W Bush, says he believes the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein

NO REGRETS: A statement from Former US President, George W Bush, says he believes the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein

A statement issued by Bush's spokesman, Freddy Ford, said the former president had not had a chance to read the report but defended the war's goal of ousting Saddam.

“Despite the intelligence failures and other mistakes he has acknowledged previously, President Bush continues to believe the whole world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power,” the statement said.

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Tony Blair in the spotlight

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WAR CRIMINAL?: The Chilcot report will bring to light many issues surrounding the invasion of Iraq in 2003

WAR CRIMINAL?: The Chilcot report will bring to light many issues surrounding the invasion of Iraq in 2003

Former Labour PM will have to answer hard questions from the Chilcot report

Seven years after it was set up, the findings from an official inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War will finally come to light next week.

Attention will be firmly focused on how far it will criticise former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The inquiry, headed by civil servant John Chilcot, was set up in July 2009, shortly after the last British combat troops returned home, by ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The Chilcot report - which has been eagerly awaited and answers many questions about the Iraq war - is a lengthy document which is four times longer than the famous novel by Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace - at 2.6 million words long.

Britain's role in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and Blair's justification for military action, in which 179 British soldiers lost their lives in Operation Telic, is a highly charged issue for many Britons.

Millions opposed the invasion which still overshadows foreign policy.

The main reason given for the invasion - that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction - has been debunked after none were found. A spokesman for Blair declined to comment.

Since Britain voted to leave the European Union last week, the report's publication is likely to be ‘like a can of worms’ according to some officials.

Many Britons believing Blair deliberately misled the public, an accusation he denies, and one of the key issues will be the report’s conclusion as to the legal basis for going to war.

Also in the firing line will be Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove, chairman of the joint intelligence committee Sir John Scarlett, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and Clare Short, former International Development Secretary. Senior officials in the Ministry of Defence , Foreign Office and Cabinet Office will also be made to answer questions.

Labour's current leader, socialist Jeremy Corbyn, has said he believes the war was illegal and that Blair should be tried for war crimes if evidence shows he broke international law.

Mr Corbyn said in an interview with the BBC: “We went into a war that was catastrophic, that was illegal, that cost us a lot of money, that lost a lot of lives, and the consequences are still played out with migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, refugees all over the region.”

Corbyn is currently facing a challenge to his own position which his allies blame on Blair supporters within the party.

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