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Seven Years On: Chilcot Iraq War Inquiry Report to Finally Be Released

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The official inquiry into the Iraq War will be published on 6 July, less than a fortnight after the United Kingdom holds a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU)

An announcement on the inquiry’s website indicated that “Sir John Chilcot and the Prime Minister have agreed that the Iraq Inquiry’s report will be published on Wednesday 6 July 2016.” The news comes after Prime Minister David Cameroon confirmed that the report would not be published until after the 23 June EU referendum, effectively prompting criticism that the delay was to avoid embarrassing key ‘In’ campaigners.

Tony Blair, who was the Labour Prime Minister at the time of the 2003 conflict, is expected to be criticised in the report, along with other members of his government. According to Sir John, the chairman of the inquiry which started work seven years ago, the 2.6 million word report has now been vetted for national security breaches “without the need for any redactions,” adding that British spies had completed the redaction process in mid-May. The delay however was branded a “stitch up” by anti-EU MPs. Former shadow Tory home secretary David Davis MP disclosed that the delay was based on the “thinnest of excuses” and that it looked like the publication of th report had been pushed back deliberately until after the EU referendum. He stated “at long last at least it will give some comfort and closure to the loved ones of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice…Nevertheless it is still outrageous that this vital report should have been delayed for so long for seven years in total,” adding, “even worse it is now delayed on the thinnest of excuses until after the EU referendum and it is the most disgraceful thing of all to put the stitching up the referendum ahead of the rights of the families of the Iraqi war dead.” Matthew Jury, a solicitor who is acting for 29 families of British soldiers who died in the Iraq War, also stated that “if national security checking of the report took two weeks, the Families are bewildered by the Inquiry’s position that it needs another two months for the simple task of proofreading and formatting,” adding, “with all the resources of the state at its disposal, absent an explanation, the Inquiry’s claim that I needs until 6 July is simply not credible.”

Sir John however has defended the two month-delay, stating that “this will allow suitable time for the Inquiry to prepare the 2.6 million word report for publication, including final proof reading, formatting, printing and the steps required for electronic publications.” Sources close to the inquiry have reported that the timing of the referendum had no bearing on the publication date.

Families of British soldiers killed in Iraq have also condemned the decision to delay publication in order to allow for Sir John Chilcot’s report to be proofread and typeset as “appalling.”

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