Chilcot Report: Who Are The Key Players In The Iraq War Inquiry

05/07/2016 21:12 | Updated 06 July 2016

Some seven years in the making, the long-awaited report into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War will finally be published.

On Wednesday morning, Sir John Chilcot will deliver his findings of the period from 2001 until the end of July 2009, specifically the decision of then Prime Minister Tony Blair to lead the country into the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Here are some of the public figures we can expect to see mentioned in the 2.6 million word report.

  • Tony Blair
    Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
    Tony Blair is expected to be heavily criticised in the report. Many believe he misled the public over the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before launching what many still believe was an illegal war.

    The former prime minister is said to be planning a press conference or a major speech in response to the report, with one source informing The Times: “He will come out all guns blazing. But Iraq has affected him a lot. It has made him into a defensive, awkward, self-conscious individual who feels destabilized by it.” 

    Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq will not be investigated by the International Criminal Court, a spokesman told The Sunday Telegraph. He added that prosecutors would comb through the report for evidence of war crimes committed by British troops, but that the decision to go to war remained outside of its remit. This means individual soldiers could be prosecuted for war crimes but not Blair.
  • Alastair Campbell
    Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
    In the run-up to the Iraq War, Campbell, who was Blair’s chief spin doctor, was involved in the preparation and release of the September Dossier in September 2002 and the Iraq Dossier (later known as the ‘Dodgy Dossier’) in February 2003. Both documents argued the case for concern over possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Both have been criticised as “misrepresenting” the actual intelligence findings and making a case for war.

    It is believed Campbell will escape serious criticism in the Chilcot report as he has not been sent a letter by the inquiry, nor has been offered a right to reply.

    A source told The Sunday Times: “Campbell has not had a letter. He is in the clear. He was in some ways a bit of a bit player in this. “Those who were directly responsible were the heads of agencies who allowed him to ‘sex up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ and of course the prime minister for whom he was working.”
  • Saddam Hussein
    Reuters Photographer / Reuters
    Saddam Hussein had served as President of Iraq since 1979 when Tony Blair joined US President George W Bush’s coalition to topple the dictator in 2003.  

    Saddam was tracked down and captured by US forces in December 2003. He was found cowering in a hole in the ground, stinking, filthy and with his face covered with an unkempt beard.  

    He was executed by hanging in December 2006 after an Iraqi special tribunal found him guilty of crimes against humanity for the killing of Shiites and Kurds.
  • Hans Blix
    Hans Blix was the UN weapons inspector tasked with finding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction between 2000 and 2003.  

    He and his team of inspectors had visited 500 sites but found no evidence of WMDs. When he and his team were forced to pull out of Iraq on the eve of the war, he said he had been “looking for smoking guns” but had not found any.  

    Speaking during an inquiry into the war in 2010, Blix said: “We carried out about six inspections per day over a long period of time. All in all, we carried out about 700 inspections at 500 different sites and in no case did we find any weapons of mass destruction.”  

    He has since stated it is his “firm view” that the Iraq War was illegal.   
  • Dr David Kelly
    Biological warfare expert Dr David Kelly had an off-the-record conversation with BBC Today journalist Andrew Gilligan, which led to him producing a report alleging the government had “sexed up” the dossier making the case to go to war and naming Dr Kelly as one of his sources.  

    Dr Kelly was ordered to give evidence before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on July 15 2003, where he said he did not believe he was the main source for Gilligan’s story.

    While the scientist said certain aspects of Gilligan’s report tallied with their conversation, his account of Campbell’s intervention with the September dossier was not “a factual record of my interaction with him.”

    “From the conversations I had with him, I don’t know how he could have had the authority to make the statements he is making,” Dr Kelly told the committee.

    Publicly humiliated, Dr Kelly was found dead on July 18 2003.
  • Andrew Gilligan
    Jeff Overs via Getty Images
    Andrew Gilligan was the BBC journalist responsible for the Today programme report which claimed the Government had “sexed up” the September dossier.

    Gilligan said a “senior official in charge of compiling the dossier” had alleged the government had included the claim that WMDs could be launched within 45 minutes even though it had come from just one unreliable source.

    Biological warfare scientist Dr David Kelly was later outed as one of Gilligan’s sources, though he told a panel of MPs at a Foreign Affairs Select Committee he did not believe he could be the source quoted in the report.  

    The Hutton Report stated Gilligan’s allegation that the “Government probably knew that the 45-minutes claim was wrong before the government decided to put it in the dossier, was an allegation which was unfounded.”

    In January 2004, Gilligan resigned from his job as the defence and diplomatic correspondent for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
  • Jack Straw
    Dave Thompson/PA Archive
    The British foreign secretary at the time of the invasion, Straw has since admitted he was skeptical of the war and considered resigning.

    His resignation would have likely stopped British involvement in the war and could have toppled Blair’s government. However, he came to the conclusion at the time that the war was “right and inevitable.”  

    In 2012 Straw said the war and his support for it, was a mistake. “I deeply regret it, and I regret even more the fact the whole basis on which we went to war turned out to be wrong,” he said.

    Sources claim Straw will also be singled out for the inexperience of Foreign & Commonwealth personnel sent to run the civilian administration in Iraq and the lack of and poor resources given to them.
  • George W. Bush
    Jim Young / Reuters
    US President George W Bush declared war on Iraq on 20 March 2003.

    During a televised address, he said: “My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

    “On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign.” 

    Following the September 11 2001 terror attacks launched by Al-Qaeda on New York’s World Trade Centre and other US east coast targets, then-prime minister Tony Blair had promised Bush the UK would support the US in whatever action it took.  

    In a broadcast from Downing Street on the same day, Blair cemented the friendship, vowing: “We here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends.”
  • Clare Short
    Chris Young/PA Archive
    Former Labour MP Clare Short quit Tony Blair’s cabinet over the invasion, stating neither WMDs or the 9/11 attacks could justify it.

    In 2010 Short, who maintains the decision to go to war put the world in greater danger of international terrorism, gave evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, in which she accused Blair of lying to her and misleading parliament in the build-up to the war.

    Last year she condemned the Chilcot Inquiry as a “very, very poor” piece of work.  

    Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One, she said the report is likely to find that: “Everyone’s to blame [and] no one’s to blame.” 

    She added: “The hope of it being a good piece of work that Britain learns what went wrong and we don't do it again looks very, very poor to me.”
  • Sir Richard Dearlove
    Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
    The ex-head of M16, who helmed the agency from 1999 to 2004 is expected to be strongly criticised for intelligence given to Tony Blair, which laid the groundwork for the ‘dodgy dossier’ about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and the subsequent ground invasion.

    Sources tell The Sunday Times Dearlove will specifically be admonished for preventing the Downing Street “gloss” which led to the now infamous claim Saddam Hussein could attack British targets at 45 minutes' notice.
  • John Scarlett
    Frank Augstein/AP
    A former spy, John Scarlett was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the time of the invasion.  

    He was involved in drawing up dossiers on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

    In 2009 he told the Chilcot Inquiry said there had been a misinterpretation in the claim Saddam Hussein could hit British targets with WMDs in 45 minutes.

    He said: “It would have been much clearer and better, the matter would not have been lost in translation, if it had been spelt out in the dossier that the word was ‘munitions’, not ‘weapons’.

    But he insisted: “There was absolutely no conscious intention to manipulate the language or obfuscate or create a misunderstanding as to what they might refer to.”
  • British Military
    The Chilcot Inquiry is expected to slam senior defence chiefs for being too slow to replaced lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rovers, after their vulnerability to roadside bombs became evident.

    The vehicles, originally designed to transport troops in Northern Ireland and shipped to Iraq for their speed over rough ground, became known as “mobile coffins” by soldiers.  

    Relatives of those killed in the conflict say the MoD failed to provide adequately armoured vehicles or equipment that could have saved lives.

    The MoD has maintained decisions about battlefield equipment are for politicians and military commanders.

    Armoured Mastiff vehicles did not arrive until the end of 2006.
  • Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as 'Chemical Ali'
    Pool via Getty Images
    Iraqi military commander Ali Hassan al-Majid was one of Saddam Hussein’s most notorious henchmen and also the dictator’s cousin to boot.

    In the autumn of 2002 he was named as one of the “dirty dozen” of Saddam’s closest allies by US President George W Bush.  

    He was executed in 2010 after being sentenced to death for the poison gas attacks that killed more than 5,000 Kurds in 1988.  Al-Majid — widely known as “Chemical Ali” for the gas attacks — was convicted for ordering the poison gas to be dropped on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988 as part of a campaign against a Kurdish uprising.

    “The armed forces must kill any human being or animal present,” he decreed.

    It was the fourth death sentence against him for crimes against humanity.
  • Sir John Chilcot
    David Cheskin/PA Wire
    Sir John Chilcot was the Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office from 1990 before retiring from his career as a civil servant at the end of 1997.  

    Sir John launched the inquiry into Britain’s participation in the Iraq war in July 2009. 

    An analysis by The Independent in 2015 claims Sir John and his fellow committee members, and their advisers, have shared more than £1.5m in fees since the start of the inquiry.

     The total expenditure since 2009 is £10,375,000.
  • Donald Rumsfeld
    Donald Rumsfeld served as George W. Bush’s defence secretary from 2001 to 2006.  

    He was responsible for the US campaign during the Iraq War which saw the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

    Though he initially received praise for his handling of the war, he was later criticised for it, with some accusing him of deploying an inadequate number of troops.  

    He resigned as defence secretary in 2006 and was replaced by Robert M Gates.  

    In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations two months after the invasion, Rumsfeld said: “This much is clear: we have a stake in their success.  

    “For if Iraq, with it’s size, capabilities, resources and its history – is able to move to the path of representative democracy, however bumpy the road, then the impact in the region and the world could be dramatic. Iraq could conceivably become a model – proof that a moderate Muslim state can succeed in the battle against extremism taking place in the Muslim world today.” 

    In 2015, Rumsfeld appeared to contradict this when he told The Times: “The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. 

    “I was concerned about it when I first heard these words… I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories.”   
  • Dick Cheney
    Olivia Harris / Reuters
    Dick Cheney was vice president from 2001 to 2009 under George W. Bush.

    He helped shape Bush’s approach to the ‘War on Terror’ and made repeated public statements alleging the presence of WMDs in Iraq – none of which were ever found.  

    In 2015 Cheney insisted he had no regrets over his administration’s decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein.  

    “It was the right thing to do then. I believed it then and I believe it now,” Cheney said in an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.  

    He added: “No apologies.”
  • Robin Cook
    Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook resigned from his positions as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons in protest against the invasion of Iraq.  

    Although he failed to halt the conflict, his speech earned him an unprecedented standing ovation.  

    He said: "I can't accept collective responsibility for the decision to commit Britain now to military action in Iraq without international agreement or domestic support." 

    Cook died of a heart attack two years later.

    According to the New Statesman, the epitaph on is gravestone reads: "I may not have succeeded in halting the war but I did secure the right of parliament to decide on war."
  • Geoff Hoon
    David Jones/PA Archive
    Geoff Hoon was defence secretary from 1999 to 2005.

    In 2002 he controversially told the BBC’s Jonathan Dimbleby that a war in Iraq could be justified without a UN resolution.  

    In 2010 Hoon told the Chilcot inquiry he had warned Tony Blair Iran represented a greater threat to British interests than Iraq and admitted there were “private communications” between the Prime Minister and George W. Bush – that he was not privy too.  

    He also claimed extra supplies of enhanced body armour for troops fighting in Iraq were not regarded as a top priority following spending cuts imposed by the Treasury.
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