A wide-ranging inquiry into Britain’s role in the Iraq invasion has opened, aiming to shed light on the case for war, but which may embarrass the government in the run-up to the next election. Relatives of British soldiers who died in Iraq attended the opening session which will hear claims that ministers at the time distorted intelligence information to justify military action.
The inquiry chairman insisted the hearings will be open and fair: “We are not a court of law, nor are we an inquest or indeed a statutory inquiry, and our processes reflect that,” said Sir John Chilcot. “No-one is on trial here, we cannot determine guilt or innocence, only courts can do that. But I make a commitment here that once we get to our final report, we will not shy away from making criticisms, either of institutions or processes or of individuals where they are truly warranted.” Most hearings will be in public but some may be private when Britain’s national security issues are addressed. Some say the inquiry doesn’t go far enough. “What they did in Iraq, they are implementing now in Afghanistan,” said Sabah Jawad, from a group called Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation. “So, the scope of the inquiry should go beyond that, it should identify the people who lied to the British people, who lied to the world, and put them on trial. Because a lot of blood, British, American and especially Iraqi blood has been spilled because of those lies.”