Commenting on Sir John Chilcot’s announcement on the terms of reference for the Iraq war inquiry, Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats said:
“It is essential that this inquiry has the teeth it needs to get the job done. The Government must not be able to interfere to keep Blair and Brown out of the spotlight for the sake of political convenience in the run-up to an election. Tony Blair ordered this disastrous war and Gordon Brown signed the cheques - without public appearances from them this inquiry will be seen as a whitewash.
The inquiry must have access to high level legal advice, in particular a counsel to assist them in cross-questioning witnesses. This is important to ensure that as gifted a communicator as Blair is not allowed to slip off the hook. It is very disappointing that the chances of an interim report have been described as ‘unlikely’ - there is no reason that such a report could not be published before the election.
Sir John’s assurance that evidence will be held in public ‘wherever possible’ is welcome. But where evidence is given in private, a genuine national security interest must be proven in each case. There is a strong case for televising hearings so the public can see that proceedings are as open as possible.”