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Ex-PM Blair Recalled To Iraq War Inquiry

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Ex-PM Blair Recalled To Iraq War Inquiry

Post by Guest on 08.12.10 22:06

Ex-PM Blair Recalled To Iraq War Inquiry

7:24pm UK, Wednesday December 08, 2010

Mark Stone, Sky reporter

Tony Blair has been recalled to appear at the inquiry into the Iraq War for a second time.

The former Prime Minister is likely to give evidence at a public hearing in late January.

ItIt is thought Sir John Chilcot and his panel were concerned about gaps and possible inconsistencies in his evidence.Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of the invasion, cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell and Lord Turnball, his predecessor, have also been asked to return.

Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, is among those the panel has asked to submit written evidence.

:: Read the full list here.
Mr Blair gave evidence to the inquiry on January 29 when it was thought, though never confirmed, that it would be his only appearance.

But since then a number of developments have paved the way for his recall.

In the summer, Mr Blair released his memoirs: A Journey, in which he talks in detail about his decision to invade Iraq in March 2003. Former US President George W Bush has also penned a book.

I felt sick, a mixture of anger and anguish. 'Do you have any regrets?' This wasn't a question being asked or answered in the quiet reflections of the soul.

Tony Blair on being asked at the last hearing if he had any regrets
And in October, the Wikileaks website released tens of thousands of secret documents relating to the Iraq war.

The inquiry panel has also gained access to scores of documents that were, when Mr Blair gave his evidence, classified. They include a memo written to Mr Blair by then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith just weeks before the invasion.

In it Lord Goldsmith wrote: "In view of your meeting with President Bush on Friday, I thought you might wish to know where I stand on the question of whether a further decision of the [UN] security council is legally required in order to authorise the use of force against Iraq."

Protesters greeted the former prime minister when he last gave evidence

Goldsmith continued, by advising Mr Blair that he "remained of the view that the correct legal interpretation of resolution 1441 [the last security council decision on Iraq] is that it does not authorise the use of force without a further determination by the security council."

He concluded: "My view remains that a further [UN] decision is required."

In the margin of the letter, the words "I just don't understand this" are scribbled. It's thought to be Mr Blair's handwriting.

Lord Goldsmith is known to have changed his mind on the legality of the invasion, first insisting it was illegal, then saying it could be legal before finally concluding that it was legal following meetings with officials in Washington and New York.

Members of the inquiry panel have also visited Iraq, France and the United States since Mr Blair's appearance.

Whilst life can only be understood backwards, it has to be lived forward. We did not have the benefit of hindsight.

Jack Straw gives evidence to the Iraq inquiry
In his memoirs, Mr Blair wrote of his "anger and anguish" at the line of questioning taken by the panel. He also admitted that he gave an "incomplete" answer to Sir John's question about whether he had any regrets.

He wrote: "As I thought on how to answer the question put to me at the end of my evidence… I felt sick, a mixture of anger and anguish.

"'Do you have any regrets?' This wasn't a question being asked or answered in the quiet reflections of the soul; not something that could be weighed, considered and explained with profundity and penetrating clarity or even an easy honesty.

"It was a headline question. It had to have a headline answer."

He continued: "I said I took responsibility, accepting the decision had been mine and avoiding the headline that would have betrayed. However, it was an answer that was incomplete."

The inquiry panel had hoped to publish its conclusions at "the turn of the year". They are now unlikely to be published before the spring.

ItIt is thought Sir John Chilcot and his panel were concerned about gaps and possible inconsistencies in his evidence.

Now where have we heard that before thinking


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