Accusation of “whitewash” have met the news that next week British spies will start vetting and editing Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry report.
A team of national security officials taken from the security services is set up and ready to go to the offices of the Iraq Inquiry, having already met with John Penrose — the Tory minister in charge of the Government’s response to the report.
Their job will be to vet Sir John’s final report pre-publication, removing sections important to national security. A source told The Telegraph:
“It is not deleting or redacting anything that is embarrassing it is just taking out or checking that anything genuinely secret is not left in.
“It is his [Sir John Chilcot’s] report – all we get to do is to check that he is not inadvertently and unintentionally revealing national secrets.”
The Iraq Inquiry officially began taking evidence in 2009, finishing the process of taking its main evidence in February 2011. Mr. Penrose said this security vetting stage will “take no more than two weeks to complete.”
As Breitbart London previously reported, although it is now very close to completion the report is unlikely to be published before the end of June or early July amid suspicion the government is trying to postpone controversial announcements until after the EU referendum.
It had been expected that up to 150 former ministers, civil servants and military figures would come in for criticism from Sir John’s report. As such, the revelation that it will be subject to national security vetting has led to the suggestion that any findings which could embarrass civil servants and government ministers will be censored out of the final publicly-available version.
Reg Keys, the father of 20-year-old Lance Corporal Thomas Keys who in 2003 died in an ambush in Iraq, said he wants to know who will vet the two million word report and how ministers will ensure it is not censored. Saying that he fears for the political neutrality of the national security team, he explained:
“There needs to be a referee almost – if someone says ‘I am taking this out’ it needs to be shown to an independent person, otherwise it will be a whitewash, it will be sanitised.”
Mr. Keys also added his voice to those concerned that considerations around the In/Out referendum are wrongly governing the publication of the report, leading to Britain’s dead and wounded personnel from the Iraq War being put “on the backburner”. He said:
“If it is held up to after the referendum it will be a ‘good day to bury bad news’. Does the Prime Minister want to be juggling two heavyweight news items at the same time?”
Tory Member of Parliament, David Davis, will this week lead a debate in the House of Commons pressuring the government not to let the vetting process delay publication.