POLITICS

Chilcot Report: Iraq Inquiry Chairman Repeatedly Turned Down Offer Of More Civil Service Resources

21/07/2015 16:18 BST | Updated 21/07/2015 16:59 BST
Peter Macdiarmid via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Sir John Chilcot arrives at the Iraq Inquiry at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre on January 21, 2011 in London, England. Tony Blair, who was British Prime Minister from May 1997 to June 2007 and took the United Kingdom into the Iraq War, is once again facing questions from Sir John Chilcot having been recalled to give more evidence at the Iraq Inquiry. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The chairman of the Iraq War inquiry has repeatedly refused extra resources to help finally produce the long-awaited report, the head of the civil service revealed today.

Sir John Chilcot began his investigation into the circumstances of the war in 2009, but six years on it is still no clear when he will produce his report.

Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be “fast losing patience” with the inquiry, which has so far cost taxpayers £10.3million.

Appearing before the Commons’ public administration and constitutional affairs select committee today, civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood revealed the offer of extra resources to the inquiry had been repeatedly turned down.

He said: “I have repeatedly offered to Sir John extra resources on behalf of the prime minister; extra legal resources and so on.

“At the prime minister’s request I saw him again recently, we had a private meeting at which I repeated that request, obviously.

"I just know that John Chilcot will complete this report as soon as he possibly can. He is as aware as everybody else is about the importance of getting this done and quickly."

He added: "We have repeatedly offered the inquiry further resources, they say they don't need them, they are doing it as fast as they can."

The inquiry was set up by then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown to investigate the UK’s role in the events leading up the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the conflict itself and the events afterwards.

Sir John has said one of the reasons for the delay was the time it was taking for some criticised in the report to respond to draft versions which have been produced.

The letters sent to those criticised are known as Salmon Letters, after Lord Salmon who held a public ethics inquiry in the 1970s.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has denied he is responsible for any hold up.

Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis told The Huffington Post UK that Sir John’s refusal of extra resources strongly indicated the Salmon letters were still causing a delay.

He said: “It seems irrational but it’s just possible staff and other such things may not be the reason for the delay.

“I suspect the only area where extra resources would be impossible to help resolve it is if it’s the backwards and forwards correspondence of the so-called Salmon Letters.

“I think Chilcot is over-interpreting the importance of the Salmon Letters. They were for people to correct egregious factual errors, not to quarrel with the outcome of the report.”

When asked if he felt he was in “in the dark” over the progress of the report, Mr Davis replied: “Even more in the dark than you - I’m down on the mushroom farm.”