Sir John Chilcot, the chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, today said he understood "the anguish of the families of those who lost their lives in the conflict", but added "it is critically important that the report should be fair".
He spoke out in the wake of sustained criticism in recent weeks over delays to his report with families of soldiers killed in Iraq threatening legal action and Prime Minister David Cameron expressing his frustration.
In his statement, Sir John said: "I should like firstly to reiterate that my colleagues and I understand the anguish of the families of those who lost their lives in the conflict.
"We take the responsibility we were given as an independent inquiry extremely seriously, and understand the need for Government, Parliament and the public to see our report as soon as possible."
But he added: "It is critically important that the report should be fair to all who participated in the conflict and to those who bore the responsibility of taking decisions."