The release of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war has been delayed until next year due to arguments about controversial content and the behaviour of leading individuals.
The report was initially delayed due to a three year dispute between Sir John Chilcot 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. Subsequent minutes of cabinet meetings where discussions were disseminated were also debated, the Guardian reports.
Now Tony Blair, his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove are said to be unhappy about what the report makes of their behaviour in the decision to take Britain to war without a UN Security Council mandate.
Sir John waited for those discussions to be concluded before sending out letters to those he intended to criticise in his report which included draft passages where they are featured so they can respond before final publication. It is understood some of those criticised in the report may be seeking legal advice.
But the delays, which may last until 2016, are deeply frustrating for the families of the 179 military personnel who died in the invasion and subsequent operations following the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
But it will be seen as good news to the Labour campaign since the strongest accusations of wrongdoing will inevitably land at the feet of the then-Labour government whose ranks included politicians standing for re-election in less than three weeks time.
Witnesses have told the Guardian they intend to deliver devastating criticism of the Blair government, but are holding back until Chilcot has published his report.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats, who were against the invasion. have called for the findings to be released as soon as possible.