Tony Blair is facing fresh questions over his role in leading Britain to war in Iraq in coalition with the United States.
Amid new moves to bring the former Prime Minister to court on charges related to war crimes, the head of the investigation into the circumstances leading up to the 2003 invasion has publicly questioned whether he was “straight” with the British people about the reasons for war.
Twelve months after his seven-year inquiry concluded that Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” and that the war was fought on “flawed” intelligence, Sir John Chilcot told the BBC: “I think any Prime Minister taking a country into war has got to be straight with the nation and carry it, so far as is possible, with him or her. I don’t believe that was the case in the Iraq instance.”
Sir John stopped short of accusing Blair of lying but said: “(He) is always and ever an advocate. He makes the most case he can. Not departing from the truth, but persuasion is everything.” He added that evidence given to the inquiry by Blair was “emotionally truthful” – that is, based on emotional belief as well as facts.
A spokesman for Blair said “all these issues” had been dealt with, later accusing the BBC of putting words into Sir John’s mouth.
Meanwhile, efforts by the former chief of staff of the Iraqi army, General Wahid Shannan ar-Rabat to bring a private prosecution are continuing. Senior judges are reviewing an appeal against a 2016 ruling by Westminster magistrates that Blair should have immunity from criminal charges.