Comment at end
13th November, 2009
THE TORY PAPERS ARE BENDING THE TRUTH AGAIN ON BLAIR
So, will Tony Blair appear at the Iraq Inquiry within the next 3 months?
MAYBE, MAYBE NOT.
The news has appeared in at least two papers tonight. Two Tory-supporting papers. Unless they have heard from another quarter than the Iraq Inquiry website, they are simply LYING.
The Telegraph and the inevitable and scurrilous Daily Mail.
But at the Iraq Inquiry website it does NOT actually say that Mr Blair will be appearing at the Inquiry before it closes at the beginning of February. It says here that public hearings will begin on November 24th. And on this page it only says that Tony Blair will be appearing in the public hearings that begin then. It does not say he will definitely be appearing before it closes at the beginning of February.
‘The initial public hearings for the Iraq Inquiry will begin on Tuesday 24th November 2009 at the QEII conference centre in central London. The hearings will run until 17th December, break for Christmas, then start again during the week of 4th January 2010. It is expected they will run until early February. The exact dates of the sessions, along with the identity of witnesses and arrangements for public and media access, will be published nearer the time.’
The Daily Mail report, excerpt:
Tony Blair will face Iraq war grilling in the run-up to election (another blow to his EU presidency hopes)
By Jason Groves
Last updated at 11:31 PM on 12th November 2009
Tony Blair is to be hauled before the Iraq War inquiry in the run-up to next year’s General Election.
The former prime minister will be among a series of senior Labour figures to be publicly grilled early next year in what could be a PR disaster for the party which has tried to draw a line under the war.
It is also a further blow to Mr Blair’s hopes of securing the job of EU president next week.
Several countries are already nervous about backing him because of his deep involvement in the controversial conflict.
It was expected that Mr Blair would give evidence to the inquiry, but it was not clear when.
Yesterday Sir John Chilcot, who is chairing the inquiry, indicated that Mr Blair and other ministers would be asked to appear before his committee early in the New Year.
The inquiry, which will cover the entire eight-year period from the build-up to the war to the withdrawal of British troops, was announced by Gordon Brown in June.
The report will not be published until the end of next year or even 2011 – leading to accusations that the Prime Minister was trying to kick it into the long grass.
But the timing of Mr Blair’s appearance means Iraq is now set to be revived as a major issue in the period leading up to the election, which is expected next spring.
The Washington Post too. I hope they have checked with Chilcot’s office. Don’t take The Daily Mail’s word on Blair’ s “January” appearance at the Iraq Inquiry. Many of us in Britain don’t take The Mail’s word for anything.
More from Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry website:
Sir John goes on to explain that a list of those witnesses who will be called to give evidence during the first few weeks of the hearings, covering the period up to the invasion of Iraq, will be announced on 16 November. A further list of witnesses, for the hearings running up to Christmas covering the remaining period of the UK’s involvement in Iraq, which ended in July this year, will be announced on 30 November.
Once the hearings start again in January 2010, the Inquiry committee will start questioning senior politicians, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, on their roles and decisions.
Sir John continues his statement by saying;
“We are developing our formal lines of Inquiry. Those will take shape as we gather evidence. We will, however, begin during this first phase of public hearings to take evidence about thematic issues that are emerging as of interest to the Inquiry, including military equipment, military and civilian personnel issues, the key decisions taken and their rationale, the legal basis for military action, the development of government policy and the communication and implementation of those policies.”
This constitutes only the first round of public hearings. The Inquiry intend to hold a further round of public hearings in the middle of 2010.