The long-awaited inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war begins today, with a decision on how it will be carried out. The chairman of the inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, is expected to lay out its terms of reference, and how much will be held in public. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the inquiry will be wide-ranging, covering the decisions taken in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, but it will not apportion blame. The government had wanted to keep it private for security reasons.
Some 45,000 British troops originally joined the US-led invasion of Iraq, with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair accepting claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. None were found, but 179 British personnel died between 2003 and 2009. Opponents of the war say the scope and the make-up of the inquiry are too narrow, with no-one of military experience on the panel. There is also anger that its report is unlikely to be released until after the next election, which is not expected before May next year.