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Iraq Inquiry update

Since the end of the last round of public hearings on 30 July 2010, the Inquiry has held two private hearings, met military veterans of the Iraq campaign and visited Iraq. Following its invitation in June this year, the Inquiry has received around 35 submissions from International Lawyers. The Inquiry has published two further witness statements.

Visit to Iraq

Four members of the Iraq Inquiry Committee visited Iraq between Sunday 26 September and Friday 1 October. Between them, they were able to visit both Baghdad and Basra. The private discussions there allowed the Committee to receive a wider perspective on the UK’s involvement in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 as well as gaining an understanding of the position today in Iraq. As with the Inquiry’s discussions in France and the USA, the meetings were not formal evidence sessions and therefore records of the conversations will not be published.

During its visit to Iraq the Iraq Inquiry Committee met the following people in Baghdad. These people are content for their names to be published:

Labeed Abbawi Deputy Foreign Minister
Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha Leader of the Anbar Salvation Council since September 2007
Dr Ayad Allawi Interim Prime Minister of Iraq (2004-2005). Member of Iraq Governing Council (2003 – 2004)
Ali Baban Minister of Planning
Ahmed Chalabi Leader of the Iraqi National Congress party, Former Head of the Higher National De-Baathification Commission, Deputy Prime Minister (May 2005-May 2006), former interim Oil Minister
Daniel Endres and Carolyn Ennis UNHCR
Ammar Al-Hakim Leader of ISCI
Jean-Michel Happi and David Bontempo World Bank
Tariq Al-Hashimi Vice President of Iraq since April 2006
Dr Ibrahim Al-Ja'afari Prime Minister of Iraq 2005-06, Vice President of Iraq 2004-05, Member of the Iraqi Governing Council 2003-2004
Yonadim Kanna Head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement;
Member of the Iraqi Interim National Council;
Former Member of the Iraqi Governing Council
Huda Malik Director General Planning
Dr Mowaffaq Al-Rubaie Independent member of the Iraqi House of Representatives, Former member of the Iraqi Governing Council (2003-2004) & Iraqi National Security Advisor (2004-2009)
Ayad Al-Samarraei Speaker of the Council of Representatives since April 2009
Ville Varjola Acting EU Ambassador
Sharwan Al-Waely State Ministry for National Security Affairs
Canon Andrew White Anglican Vicar, St George’s Church, Baghdad since 2005, President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East since 2005

In Basra

Dr Haider Ali Chairman, Basra Investment Commission
Farouq al-Asadi and Ms Safia Abdel Fattah Rafha human rights/refugee NGO
Hassan al-Rashid Provincial Councillor and former Governor
Taha al-Tamimi Former political adviser to HMG
Mohammed al-Wa'ili Businessman and former Governor

The Inquiry also met locally employed civilians and, as much as security permitted, saw for themselves the situation on the streets of Basra and Baghdad.

On their return journey, the Committee stopped off in Jordan and met representatives of the international community who work on Iraq based out of Amman, including:

Peter Batchelor Deputy Country Director UNDP Iraq
Christine McNab Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Resident Co-ordinator, Humanitarian Co-ordinator United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq, Resident Representative UNDP Iraq
Stephen Ray Head of OCHA Iraq
Imran Riza Representative UNHCR Jordan
Jobst von Kirchmann Head of Iraq Aid Programme, EU Delegation

The Committee is considering a further visit to Northern Iraq, before publication of its report. For security reasons no details will be published in advance of such a visit. The Inquiry continues to welcome submissions from all who believe they have information relevant to the Inquiry’s terms of reference including the Iraqi community within the UK.

Meetings with military veterans of the Iraq campaign

On 14 September the Committee visited Tidworth Garrison, where they met 80 military personnel from all three Services. The valuable insights and feedback from their experiences in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 covered issues including equipment, resourcing as well as welfare provision and support both on tour and afterwards.

On 06 October the Committee went to Defence Medical Rehabilitation centre at Headley Court to learn about the treatment and impact of injuries on those wounded and the subsequent rehabilitation process. The Committee were grateful for such a useful visit.

International Law submissions

In June 2010, Sir John Chilcot issued an open invitation for International Lawyers to give their analysis of the legal arguments relied upon by the UK Government as the legal basis for military intervention in Iraq. The deadline for submissions was on 13 September 2010; around 35 submissions were received. Those submissions which addressed the issues raised in Sir John’s invitation will be published with the Inquiry report.

Private hearings

In September 2010 the Iraq Inquiry held two separate private hearings with:

Matthew Rycroft Foreign Affairs Private Secretary to the Prime Minister 2002-2004
Sir Nigel Sheinwald Permanent Representative to the European Union 2000-2003;
Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister and Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat 2003-2007;
HM Ambassador to Washington DC covering the period 2007 to 2009.

The Committee is determined to hold as many of its proceedings in public as possible. As Sir John set out at the launch of the Inquiry, there are however circumstances where a private hearing is necessary. Those circumstances are laid out in the Inquiry’s protocols which are published on the website. The Protocol also sets out the approach the Inquiry will take to considering how best to draw on and explain in public what was covered in private.

Witness Statements

The Inquiry has published two further witness statements. One is an additional statement provided by Mark Etherington who gave public evidence to the Inquiry in July. The other was requested by the Inquiry from Nicola Brewer who was Director Regional Programmes in DFID between June 2002 and August 2004.

Sir John Chilcot said:

“Since the end of the public hearings in July, we have heard from many individuals; from British service personnel who served in Iraq, to Iraqi politicians and civilians living and working in the country today.

“All those meetings have been immeasurably helpful to the Committee, and we are grateful to those who have hosted us and those who have taken the time to meet us to share their insights and experiences.

“We are now drawing together and analysing all this information and the insights we have gained along with the hours of evidence and the many thousands of documents we have received. That will form the basis of our account of the UK’s involvement in Iraq from which we intend to identify lessons for future British governments facing similar circumstances.

“As I have said before, if there are gaps in the evidence we will seek to fill them, including seeking further written evidence or potentially holding a small number of further public hearings either with new witnesses or with those from whom we have heard before. Writing the report is an immense task but our objective remains to publish the report in early 2011.”