Did the government mislead subsequent inquiries or did those inquiries fail to convey the truth?

“We have a very detailed account in the Hutton inquiry report of the construction of the dossier, almost line by line, and I don’t think there is any need for this inquiry simply to rehearse that.” Sir John Chilcot, Inquiry chairman

Four previous inquiries have looked at aspects of the government’s actions in the run up to the war. To some extent, the setting up of the Chilcot Inquiry reflects a widespread belief that those inquiries did not get to the bottom of the issues they were asked to address.

Since the previous inquiries took place, a great deal of evidence has since come to light that they did not publicly address. This has undermined confidence in their findings.There are many possible reasons why previous inquiries were inadequate, including the narrowness of their respective remits.

What is not clear is how much the government misled those inquiries and withheld evidence from them and how much those inquiries either allowed themselves to be mislead or colluded with the government to hide embarrassing information.

The Inquiries

The 2003 Foreign Affairs Select Committee

The first inquiry to examine the UK participation in the invasion was the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which published a report on The Decision to go to War in Iraq in July 2003.

The Intelligence and Security Committee

In September 2003 the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is a function of the Cabinet Office, published a report on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction – Intelligence and Assessments.

The Hutton Inquiry

In July 2003, Lord Hutton was commissioned to carry out an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly. Lord Hutton’s report was published in January 2004.

The Butler Review

Lord Butler’s Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction was published in July 2004. Sir John Chilcot was a member of Lord Butler’s team. The Butler report was critical of the quality of the intelligence used as a justification for the war and its public presentation but was itself criticised for pulling its punches. Evidence that has come into the public domain since the report has led to further criticism. Read more