Sir John Chilcot has made public the inquiry he led into the UK’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The 12-volume Chilcot Report has found that, while war may have been necessary at some point, in 2003 there was “no imminent threat” from Iraq’s then-leader Saddam Hussein. A strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time, the inquiry advised.
Policy on Iraq was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments,” it found.
Chilcot said Britain’s then-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, overestimated his ability to sway US decisions in regard to Iraq.
He found that the UK undermined the UN Security Council, members of which couldn’t agree that all peaceful options had been exhausted, leading Blair to take a decision on pressing forward with plans to invade.
Claims that Iraq had – and was ready to – deploy Weapons of Mass Destruction imminently were presented with a certainty that was not justified, Chilcot told his London audience, while preparations for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq were described as “wholly inadequate.”
Tony Blair’s response
Blair later reiterated his claim that he took the decision to go to war “in good faith.”
“The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit,” he wrote in a short statement published following Chilcot’s summary.
“Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.”
He said that he would respond to the “serious criticisms” outlined in the report “in detail” later in the afternoon.
“I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse,” the statement said.
David Cameron’s response
UK Prime Minister David Cameron voted in favour of military action in Iraq when he was a Conservative Party backbencher.
He told the House of Commons that the most important thing is “to learn lessons for the future” from the Iraq Inquiry, adding that steps have been put in place to avoid the problems the government had with Iraq.