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Sir John agrees to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee

Sir John Chilcot has accepted an invitation to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee.  In a letter to Sir  Richard Ottaway, Chair of the Committee, Sir John explained that he would be constrained in the evidence he is able to give.

Sir John highlighted that the Inquiry Committee has worked in strict confidence in the course of drafting its report and reiterated the longstanding position that it would not give a running commentary on its work.  He restated the importance of fair treatment of individuals, and also the principle that the Inquiry's report should not be released piecemeal.

Sir John explained that he would not:

  • Say anything about the substance of the Inquiry's work.  It would be inappropriate for him to anticipate the Inquiry's ultimate findings, particularly because any conclusions he and his colleagues may have reached are necessarily provisional at this stage.
  • Comment on the Maxwellisation process itself beyond the facts outlined in correspondence with the Prime Minister.  To do so might jeopardise the confidentiality of the process and those involved when he has given an assurance that it will be respected.
  • Comment in detail on the private internal processes of the Inquiry or on sensitive discussions on the declassification of documents.  The principles which guided those discussions are set out in the Protocol between the Iraq Inquiry and Her Majesty's Government regarding Documents and Other Written and Electronic Information, which is available via the Inquiry's website.
  • Make a judgement about the ultimate date of publication until the responses from those who have been sent the Inquiry's provisional criticisms have been received and evaluated

Sir John stated that:

"My colleagues and I have served as members of this Inquiry longer than any of us expected would be necessary.  But the Inquiry has been given the task of examining all of the significant aspects of the UK's involvement in Iraq over a period of nine years.  The issues the Inquiry is considering are complex and controversial.  To ensure that the conclusions we reach are well-founded it is essential that our approach should be rigorous and comprehensive.

"We are conscious of our responsibility - to the public and to all those whose lives have been deeply affected by the events we are examining - to discharge our duty thoroughly, impartially and fairly."