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Chilcot report: Tony Blair’s Iraq War case not justified

Tony Blair overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle and had “wholly inadequate” plans for the aftermath, the UK’s Iraq War inquiry has said.

Chairman Sir John Chilcot said the 2003 invasion was not the “last resort” action presented to MPs and the public.

There was no “imminent threat” from Saddam – and the intelligence case was “not justified”, he said.

Mr Blair has apologised but insisted that lives had not be lost “in vain”.

Amid calls for Mr Blair and others to take responsibility, the ex-Labour prime minister said he acknowledged the intelligence had “turned out to be wrong” and the invasion had destabilised Iraq but said he still believed the country was “better off” without Saddam Hussein.

While accepting the grief and sorrow of those who had lost loved ones and accepting they could not “forgive or forget him”, he said British service personnel had taken part “in the defining global security struggle of the 21st Century”.

He has said he will “take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse”.

A spokesman for the families of the 179 British service personnel and civilians killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 said their loved ones had died “unnecessarily and without just cause and purpose”.

He said all options were being considered, including asking those responsible for the failures identified in the report to “answer for their actions in the courts if such process is found to be viable”.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who voted for war in 2003, told MPs it was important to “really learn the lessons for the future” and to improve the workings of government and how it treats legal advice.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who voted against military action – said the report proved the Iraq War had been an “act of military aggression launched on a false pretext”, something he said which has “long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international opinion”.

The key points of the report

The report, which is 2.6 million words long, does not make a judgement on whether Mr Blair or individual ministers were in breach of international law.

But Sir John, the ex-civil servant who chaired the inquiry, does not pull his punches when criticising decisions made in the run up to war and in the aftermath.

He describes the Iraq War as an intervention that went “badly wrong” with consequences still being felt to this day.

He has harsh criticisms for UK military commanders, who the report says had made “over-optimistic assessments” of their capabilities which had led to “bad decisions”.

But in a statement at the launch of the report, he criticised the way the need for military action was presented to the public and MPs by Mr Blair and his ministers.

“The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of a mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified,” he said. “Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated.”


Full report is available on http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report/

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