Iraq inquiry: Blair to face scathing criticism

By Ian Dunt

Tony Blair will face scathing criticism when the final report into the Iraq war is published, it is being reported.

The Chilcot inquiry will castigate the prime minister for making a secret pledge with George Bush to go to war while still suggesting publicly it could be averted and for making bogus claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, according to the Mail on Sunday.

There will also be criticism of his 'sofa-style' of government and failure to plan for the post-invasion scenario.

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw and director of communications in Downing Street Alastair Campbell will also be subject to a harsh judgement on their behaviour at the time of the invasion, according to the newspaper.

Mr Blair's claim to parliament that the existence of Hussein's WMD was "beyond doubt" is likely to feature prominently, as is Mr Campbell's insistence that the dossier on the weapons was not designed to make the case for war.

In later evidence, Major-General Michael Laurie, who was head of intelligence collection for the Defence Intelligence Agency, said: "Alastair Campbell said the purpose of the dossier was not 'to make a case for war'. I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used.

"We knew at the time that its purpose was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence. I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given."

Mr Blair cut a resolutely unapologetic figure when appearing at the inquiry, insisting that he regretted nothing and proceeding to argue for military engagement with Iran.

His sofa-style of government was already severely criticised in the Butler report into the war but is likely to undergo further examination when the Chilcot inquiry issues its findings.

A source close to Mr Blair said: "This is a deliberate attempt to pre-judge a report that hasn't even been written yet."

Those criticised in the report will be told its conclusions several weeks before publication and given a chance to respond.