04/02/2015 07:05 GMT | Updated 04/02/2015 07:59 GMT

Chilcot Reveals Death Of Iraq Inquiry Panel Member - But Not Publication Date Of Report

The chairman of the delayed inquiry into the Iraq War revealed today that one of his panel members died last night - but was when the public will get to see his conclusions

Sir John Chilcot told the Commons foreign affairs committee today that historian Sir Martin Gilbert had passed away on Tuesday as a result of a "long and serious illness".

MPs had summoned Chilcot to parliament to demand answers as to why his report into Tony Blair's decision to take Britain to war in 2003 had yet to see the light of day.

tony blair

It has been 1,898 days since the start of the Chilcot Inquiry, which is five years, two months and 11 days. Chilcot once optimistically predicted his report would be published by late 2010. Three general elections will have taken place between the start of the Iraq War in 2003 and the final publication - assuming it is released before 2020.

Pressed by MPs today, Chilcot said there was "no realistic prospect" of his report being finished before this May's general election.

And he gave no deadline for when it would be published, telling the committee only that his panel wanted to complete its work "as soon as we possibly can".

"We have to maintain the principles by which we have operated throughout: fairness, thoroughness and impartiality," he said.

"It is our duty to deliver a report which gives the government, parliament, the public, and particularly all those who have been deeply affected by events in Iraq, the answers they deserve."

SEE ALSO:Blair Snaps At BBC Reporter Over Chilcot Delay Questions

Blair has rejected claims that he is holding up the publication by taking too long to respond to any criticisms made of him in the report.

Some of the subjects of the Chilcot Inquiry report, which ha so far cost £9 million and will be around one million words long, have been given the chance to react to its findings - a procedure known as Maxwellisation.

The start of the process was seriously held up as it had to await agreement - now secured - with the Cabinet Office over the right to publish sensitive documents alongside the report.

Chilcot did not name and names. But he said he had "no evidence" that any of the individuals concerned was deliberately "seeking to spin out time" but insisted they would only be allowed a "proper and reasonable" period.