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Iraq Inquiry: Publication Date Announced

On 6 May 2016, Sir John Chilcot notified the Prime Minister, David Cameron, he proposed to publish the report by the Iraq Inquiry on 6 July 2016. Mr Cameron replied stating that his officials stood ready to assist on the arrangements for the publication. 

Background

On 15 June 2009, the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced the establishment of an independent privy counsellor committee of inquiry, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, to consider the UK’s military involvement in Iraq.  It would cover the period from summer 2001, before military operations began in Iraq in March 2003, and the UK’s subsequent involvement, to the end of July 2009, when the last troops returned home.

The then Government had previously resisted repeated calls for an official, broad ranging inquiry to investigate the lead up to the Iraq war. However, in June 2009, Gordon Brown explained that, with the final British combat troops about to return from Iraq, it was “the right time” to ensure a “proper process” was in place to learn the lessons of the “complex and often controversial events of the last six years”.  Given the complexity of the issues that the Inquiry would address, Gordon Brown added that he had been advised “it will take a year”.

The Iraq Inquiry (“Chilcot”) was officially launched by Sir John Chilcot on 30 July 2009. Sir John noted that it could not know how long the Inquiry would take “until it had read the background material and heard the evidence”. Public evidence hearings took place between 24 November 2009 and February 2011 but various parts of the process, such as agreeing the disclosure of documents, and providing individuals who may be criticised in the report with an opportunity to respond (“Maxwellisation”) are reported to have caused delays.

This Lords Library briefing provides a brief timeline of principal developments during the Inquiry’s process. It particularly focusses on delays of the report’s publication.


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