Blair to be grilled over Iraq war

Panel to hold hearing in public

The former prime minister will be called to testify to the Iraq war inquiry, said inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot, who launched the long-awaited probe on Thursday.

Even as Blair apparently warned that the hearings would lead to it becoming a “show trial” if they were held in public, Chilcot underlined that “wherever possible” evidence would be heard in public, perhaps live on television.

However, Chilcot said some sessions would remain behind closed doors, “consistent with the need to protect national security, sometimes to ensure complete candour and openness from witnesses”.

Chilcot, formerly a senior civil servant, said his five-member committee would look at the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, covering the run-up to the conflict, the military action and the aftermath. This is the widest scope ever for a government inquiry.
Chilcot said bereaved families of those killed during the conflict and others “seriously affected” would be among the first to make their feelings known to the inquiry and arrangements are already in hand to meet them “as soon as practicable”.

Between 2003 and 2009, 179 British service personnel were killed in Iraq. “We are determined to be thorough, rigorous, fair and frank to enable us to form impartial and evidence-based judgments on all aspects of the issues, including the argument about the legality of the conflict,” Chilcot was quoted as saying in the British media.

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