Monday, June 22, 2009

Sir John Chilcot - "mainly open" inquiry

Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 17:57 UK

Chairman urges public Iraq probe

The chairman of the Iraq inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, has said as much evidence as possible should be held in public.

In a letter to Gordon Brown, Sir John said it would be "essential" to conduct a mainly open process.

Mr Brown faced criticism for announcing that it would take place in private and later said Sir John could decide to hold public sessions.

Jack Straw, foreign secretary in 2003, has said that he has "no problem" with giving evidence in public.

On Wednesday the prime minister is due to face a Commons vote on a Conservative motion that evidence given to the Iraq inquiry should be heard in public "whenever possible".

'Complete candour'

In his letter, Sir John said he would consult with opposition party leaders and senior MPs before settling on the inquiry's format.

But he told Mr Brown: "More broadly, I believe it will be essential to hold as much of the proceedings of the inquiry as possible in public, consistent with the need to protect national security and to ensure and enable complete candour in the oral and written evidence from witnesses."

Mr Brown had initially announced that the inquiry would be held in private, but then said some evidence could be taken in public following criticism.

Other ministers followed, with Mr Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of the Iraq invasion, saying he would be prepared to testify publicly.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan had also told the BBC's Politics Show that he suspected "many, many parts" of the inquiry would be conducted in public.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls also said that hearing some evidence in public would be a "good thing".

Downing Street and Tony Blair's spokesman have dismissed reports that the decision to hold the inquiry in private was prompted by pressure from the ex-prime minister.


Post a Comment

<< Home