The inquiry completed its public hearings in 2011
|Sir John Chilcot opened his two-year inquiry in 2009|
There are a number of examples, particularly over recent years, where issues of great interest or even concern to the public, have been ignored, delayed or even stopped from investigation (as was the case of the BAE Systems involvement in bribery and corruption in Saudi Arabia). The badly worn clichés of "not in the public interest" or insufficient evidence", have been trotted out by the "authorities" as if in some way these weasel words will pacify people into accepting the government or the DPP or who ever know best and we should not press the matter further. We all know however, that the reasons for delay or abandonment of investigations into these matters, is usually more to do with avoidance of possible exposure or embarrassment for government or individuals, than with informing the public of facts. The Hillsborough investigation is perhaps the most notorious example of delay.
The latest much publicised and important investigation to fall foul of this apparent establishment desire to delay exposure of probable wrong doing is the delay in publication of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war report which, apparently, will not be published before the election. Now it is very right and proper that those individuals named in the report should have the opportunity to respond to any comments or criticism in respect of what they did or did not do and their involvement in the events leading up to 2003 invasion, but it is stretching the borders of credibility to believe that an enquiry which completed its public hearings in 2011, can take more than four years to publish a report. Even now, there is no prospect of publication in the near future. Even after stating that the report would not be published before the next election, Sir John Chilcot qualified his comment by stating that “Until we have received and evaluated responses from all those who have been given the opportunity to respond, I cannot give an accurate estimate for how long it will then take to complete our work”.
There has been much speculation regarding who may be involved with the continuing delay, ranging from Tony Blair (notwithstanding his denial of any involvement), various government departments and former Ministers to the security services of the United Kingdom and the United States. Whatever the real reasons may be for the continuing delay, this is not an issue that will go away if it is ignored for long enough.
The public generally and the relatives and friends of those killed during and after the conflict, have the right to know what happened, why it happened and who was responsible.