No amount of delaying tactics over the publication of the Chilcot report can reduce the culpability of those responsible for the Iraq war. But how should the role of the legal profession in the delayed report be judged? Are we in danger of being criticised ourselves?
The suspicion is that some of those involved in the decision to invade Iraq are deliberately instructing their lawyers to hold things up in the hope that the longer things are delayed, the less will be the impact of any adverse judgement against them in the report.
The process causing the delay is ‘Maxwellisation’, by which Chilcot is required to give anyone the report is intending to criticise advance sight of the conclusions, so that they can present arguments designed to persuade the report’s authors to amend or even reverse them. Newspapers have reported that at least 150 individuals have received notice of criticism of their conduct in the report, triggering an avalanche of lawyers’ letters going backwards and forwards many times over.
The Chilcot inquiry was commissioned by Gordon Brown in June 2009, concluded its evidence-taking in February 2011 and was due to publish its findings by 2014. Now we are being told that the report might not be produced before the end of 2016.
Surely, it is time to call time on the lawyers? Enough is enough. There comes a time when decency and fairness demand that we look to the families of the 179 British soldiers killed in the conflict. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Christopher Digby-Bell, London W1