Blair-Bush letters ARE delaying Iraq report, says Chilcot: Head of inquiry admits records of conversations is an issue

May 14, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Blair-Bush letters ARE delaying Iraq report, says Chilcot: Head of inquiry admits records of conversations is an issue

  • Sir John Chilcot must wait for issue of ‘sensitive documents’ to be resolved
  • Home Office minister has accused former PM of ‘disgrace to democracy’
  • Iraq records have yet to be revealed almost a decade on from start of war

By JAMES CHAPMAN

Secrets: The Iraq report cannot be published until the issue of documents sent between Tony Blair and George Bush have been resolved by the involved parties

Secrets: The Iraq report cannot be published until the issue of documents sent between Tony Blair and George Bush have been resolved by the involved parties

Tony Blair was blamed yesterday for a delay in publishing an official report into the Iraq War.

Norman Baker, a Home Office minister, accused the former premier of trying to block the release of secret communications between him and George W Bush.

He has told Sir John Chilcot, who is heading the inquiry, of his deep concern at the length of time it is taking.

A letter from the former Whitehall mandarin – seen by the Daily Mail – shows that publication of notes sent by Mr Blair to former US president Bush, and records of their conversations, is an issue.

‘We continue to work toward delivering our report to the Prime Minister at the earliest possible date,’ he told Mr Baker, adding that discussions ‘about the disclosure of sensitive documents are not yet concluded’.

Mr Baker said he was dismayed by Sir John’s confirmation that Mr Blair’s messages to the White House are causing a delay.

‘The way the Blair government handled the Iraq war is perhaps the most shameful episode in the history of our democracy,’ he said. ‘The fact Tony Blair appears now to be holding up the proper release of information is a disgrace.

‘We need the Chilcot inquiry report now – we need it out before the general election.

‘Voters are entitled to know what was done in their name. Tony Blair should stop blocking the release of this information and Sir John should not allow the timetable in his inquiry to be dictated by the former prime minister.’

David Cameron said last year he hoped the difficulties surrounding publication of the conclusions would be ‘concluded as soon as possible’.

But the declassification of key documents – and the process that requires individuals criticised in a government-commissioned report to have a chance to comment – remain stalled.

In a letter to Sir John, Mr Baker said he was ‘very concerned that your final conclusions have yet to see the light of day’ and pointed out that it was ‘more than a decade since the Iraq war occurred and therefore operational sensitivities must be long gone’.

He added: ‘Given the huge controversy of the episode in British life, I think it is very important that all the facts are now made public and the potential for individual embarrassment should not be allowed to get in the way of this objective.’

The details of the decision to go to war have not been aired more than a decade after thousands protested

The details of the decision to go to war have not been aired more than a decade after thousands protested

Mr Baker asked if it was true, as has been claimed, that the delay centered around the release of correspondence between Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

Sir John said he was ‘able to confirm that the sensitive documents under discussion include notes send by Mr Blair to President Bush, and records of conversations between the UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States… I regret that I am unable to answer your question about the involvement of the former Prime Minister…’

Gordon Brown asked Sir John to investigate the conflict in 2009 and he last took evidence from a witness three years ago.

Tory defence minister Andrew Murrison warned last week that the report will not be ‘very kind’ to Mr Blair, saying he was ‘not clear why it hasn’t been published already’.

Mr Blair has firmly denied being responsible for the hold-up.

‘I’ve made it absolutely clear that when the report’s published is entirely up to them [the inquiry team].

‘It’s not my decision at all… it’s the responsibility of the people who run the inquiry,’ he said.

A spokesman said: ‘He has as much reason as anyone for wanting the report published.’

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2627608/Blair-Bush-letters-ARE-delaying-Iraq-report-says-Chilcot-Head-inquiry-admits-records-conversations-issue.html#ixzz31jFtY61K
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