Sunday, June 14, 2009

Indy - Brown to close doors

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Brown announces Iraq war inquiry – but it will be behind closed doors

PM's move is designed to bolster position with backbenchers as Miliband continues dithering, but opposition MPs will react with outrage at secrecy surrounding long-awaited investigation

By Jane Merrick, Political Editor

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Gordon Brown will attempt to win over Labour MPs this week by formally announcing an inquiry into the Iraq war. In a move designed to draw a line under the most controversial act of a Labour government, the Prime Minister will announce the investigation into the decision to go to war in 2003 and its protracted and bloody aftermath.

But he is expected to announce the probe, delayed until the final British combat troops returned from Iraq last month, will be held mainly behind closed doors, similar to the Franks Inquiry into the Falklands conflict.

Labour backbenchers and Liberal Democrats have been demanding a full public inquiry. Mr Brown will set out the details of the inquiry in the Commons early this week as he continues his fightback after the failed coup that nearly ended his premiership.


But Mr Brown is expected to face MPs' anger this week if the Iraq inquiry is held in private, as Whitehall sources indicated that it would be similar to the Franks inquiry into the Falklands conflict, which sat in private and was conducted by privy councillors.

Mr Brown has asked the Cabinet Secretary, Gus O'Donnell, to look at the scope, membership and timing of the inquiry, and there may be some opportunity for the public and media to hear discussions, but this would be strictly limited, the Government is expected to say.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "We have always argued that we need a full public inquiry into the events that led us into this disastrous war.

"For this inquiry to be successful, it needs to be fully open, so that the whole country can understand the decisions that led us into the worst foreign policy mistake since Suez."

A Downing Street spokesman refused to comment on the inquiry.



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