The long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq War will be published on Wednesday 6 July it has been confirmed.
The date was confirmed by Sir John Chilcot and the Prime Minister David Cameron in correspondence, and follows completion of the national security checking process.
Sir John suggested the date to “allow sufficient time for the Inquiry to prepare the 2.6 million word report for publication, including final proof reading, formatting, printing and the steps required for electronic publication.”
Mr Cameron confirmed the announcement, adding that he was “pleased” that the national security checking process had been completed “without the need for any redactions.”
The Inquiry was set up in 2009 to investigate the UK’s involvement in Iraq between the summer of 2001 to 2009. 150 witnesses were heard over more than 130 sessions of oral evidence; in addition the inquiry analysed more than 150,000 government documents and scrutinised numerous open source materials.
However, the main evidence sessions were wound up February 2011. Since then, the report has been the source of much controversy having been subject to repeated delays and setbacks, eroding public trust in the process.
A dispute between Sir John and UK cabinet secretaries including Gus O’Donnell and Jeremy Heywood over which notes of conversations between then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush could be published led to an initial three year delay; last April a further dispute between Tony Blair, his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove over the decision to take the UK to war without a UN Security mandate caused a further year-long delay.
By August last year, Mr Cameron was voicing his frustration at not being able to order the release of the report.
“You meet mothers and fathers of those who died in Iraq who want to know the answers, and want to know before they reach the end of their lives.
“You have had plenty of time now, you have got to get on with it, set a date for publication and let’s put this past us,” Mr Cameron said.
As the EU Referendum loomed fresh allegations emerged that its release was being delayed to avoid controversy ahead of the vote.
Roger Bacon, father of Major Matthew Bacon was killed in 2005, added:
“As soon as it is delivered to the Prime Minister they must publish it as soon as they possibly can and there should be no artificial delay to it. To allow the referendum to get in the way of it seems to me to be completely wrong and smacks of political manoeuvrings that should not be taking place really.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the inquiry has confirmed “the report and supporting documents will be published on the Inquiry’s website alongside a guide on how to read the report.
“Arrangements are being made so that families of those who died as a result of the conflict in Iraq can have early access to the report on the day of publication.”