Chilcot Inquiry delays 'a disgrace for families of soldiers killed in Iraq'


David Cameron should "pull the plug" on the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War and give Parliament a vote to force a timetable for the long-delayed report's publication, Tony Blair's former attorney general has said.

Lord Morris of Aberavon, who was the former prime minister's chief legal adviser from 1997 until 1999, before the 2003 invasion, said the families of soldiers killed in the conflict have been done a gross disservice by the delays.

Much of the anger over the delay is focused on the so-called "Maxwellisation" process, which gives the opportunity to individuals facing possible criticism in the report to respond.

The delay in publication has been a growing source of frustration for Prime Minister David Cameron who has demanded a timetable for publication be set out "pretty soon".

Sir John Chilcot insisted last month that his inquiry - launched in 2009 - was making "significant progress", although he could not set a date of the publication of his findings.

Lord Morris said the PM should order Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to report to Parliament on the progress of the inquiry before MPs and peers are given a vote on a timetable for publication.

The peer told the Daily Mail: "My sympathy is entirely with the families.

"They want closure, and instead they have suffered deplorable delays.

"It is a disgrace.

"It has done a gross disservice to the families that they have had to wait such a long time after the conclusion of the evidence sessions."

Lord Dannatt, chief of the general staff during part of the Iraq War between 2006 and 2008, suggested Mr Cameron could apply a "guillotine" to the Maxwellisation process.

The peer told The Times: "Sir John Chilcot himself has either got to impose a guillotine on the Maxwellisation process or someone like the Prime Minister has got to put pressure on him to do that himself.

"But I'm not sure how legitimate it is for the Prime Minister to do that."

But Lord Butler, who headed up the 2004 review which found the evidence used to justify the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that it had weapons of mass destruction was seriously flawed, warned against rushing the inquiry.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "Let's say he is given a timetable to publish and he goes ahead and publishes and then some of the people are criticised in it say 'that is just wrong'. And then the whole inquiry becomes worthless.

"People have got to have confidence in it that it is right. All reasonable speed is the thing and where people would make a mistake is setting up an artificial timetable.

"He [Sir John Chilcot] will be anxious to do that and if you said well it has got to be out by 30 October you risk the report being flawed."

Meanwhile, The Times claimed the current head of the armed forces General Sir Nicholas Houghton is set to face criticism in the report over his role in the conflict.

That would be an unusual step in that serving military chiefs are rarely criticised over their roles in conflict.

Sir Nicholas, the current chief of defence staff, was Britain's senior military representative in Iraq between 2005 and 2006 before being promoted to the chief of joint operations until 2009.