Iraq war report delayed by dispute

Britain’s long-awaited report on Iraq war is not being published until at least next summer due to continuing disputes, a statement on website of the inquiry led by former civil servant Sir John Chilcot has revealed.

The delay is being caused by disputes over the disclosure of secret documents and damning criticism of former prime minister Tony Blair and the way his government led Britain into invading Iraq. 

The inquiry was officially launched in July 2009, examining the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, the military action and its aftermath. 

In a new statement on its website, the inquiry posted in general terms the extent of the serious difficulties it is confronting after completing taking evidence in February this year. 

‘Pulling together and analysing the evidence and identifying the lessons, for a report that covers so wide and complex range of issues and a time period of some nine years, is a significant task,” the statement said. 

‘The inquiry has advised the government that it will need until at least summer 2012 to produce a draft report which will do justice to the issues involved,” it said, making clear that government departments have blocked sensitive documents. 

‘The inquiry will need to negotiate the declassification of a significant volume of currently classified material with the government, to enable this to be quoted in, or published alongside (the final report),’ the statement said. 

The inquiry also refers indirectly to continuing disputes with Blair and other officials, over the content of the draft report. 

‘If the Inquiry concludes that it wishes to criticise any individual, in line with the Inquiry’s witness protocol the individual would be informed of the Inquiry’s views and offered the opportunity to make representations,” it said. 

During the hearings, a succession of witnesses, ranging from former cabinet secretaries to military commanders, sharply criticised the way Blair and his close advisers took key decisions without consulting senior ministers and the attorney general. 

The way the notorious, and now discredited, Iraqi weapons dossier was drawn up was also heavily criticised, as was the failure to plan for the aftermath of the invasion. 

The report will be eventually submitted to Prime Minister David Cameron initially before it is published officially in parliament.