LONDON, United Kingdom – British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the author of the report into the Iraq War to “expedite” the final stages of its preparation. Mr Cameron expressed his “disappointment” at news the report would be published in the summer, having already taken six years to prepare.
The Prime Minister made his comments in a letter to the report's author, Sir John Chilcot, in response to the former civil servant's warning of the latest delay. Cameron said: “I recognize that you have a significant task, but would welcome any further steps you can take to expedite the final stages of the inquiry.”
Chilcot said he would hand over the report to the government on April 18, 2016 but expected national security checks to take several months, leading to publication in June or July. Cameron responded by pointing out the report into the Bloody Sunday massacre only took two weeks to clear and he expected this report to take a similar amount of time to check, despite it running into two million words.
He went on to say he was pleased the end was in sight but warned that the families of those who served in Iraq would be “disappointed that you do not believe it will be logistically possible to publish your report until early summer.”
The report is thought it have been delayed because of fears about disclosing the correspondence between President Bush and Tony Blair. Also everyone mentioned has been allowed to challenge allegations against them before publication, Mr Blair is widely believed to have challenged large elements of what was said about him.
Two successive Prime Ministerial Chiefs of Staff – known as Cabinet Secretaries – have objected to the release of information relating to discussions between Bush and Blair in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. It is alleged that Blair pledged British troops for the Iraq campaign before he had sought the approval needed to make any such undertaking.
Mr Blair has always claimed he gave no definitive commitment to the US. He also claims to have tempered the Bush administration by persuading the president to seek a UN resolution prior to the invasion.
The two Cabinet Secretaries, Lord O’Donnell and Sir Jeremy Heywood, have argued that discussions between the Prime Minister and American president must always be confidential. They are said to have expressed fears that Anglo-American relations could be damaged if both sides are unable to be open with each other for fear of publication.
News of the time scale for publication of the report comes just days after Tony Blair issued a partial apology for his role in the Iraq War.
Blair told the Fareed Zakaria GPS show on CNN: “I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.”
Speaking at a press conference in Northern Future Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland, David Cameron said: "I'm immensely frustrated by the slowness and the amount of time it has taken. I'm not frustrated on my own behalf, I'm frustrated for the mums and the dads who lost loved ones and who want to know what happened and why it happened and want to make sure that the lessons are learnt."
The report is expected to be critical of the intelligence used to justify the war to the British public.