Anger in UK over delayed Iraq war inquiry

British lawmakers voiced their anger in parliament on Wednesday after it emerged that the official inquiry into the Iraq war will not be released before the country's May 7 general elections.

PTI| Updated: Jan 21, 2015, 22:09 PM IST

London: British lawmakers voiced their anger in parliament on Wednesday after it emerged that the official inquiry into the Iraq war will not be released before the country's May 7 general elections.

The inquiry, being led by John Chilcot, was set up in 2009 under then-prime minister Gordon Brown to look into the build-up to the Iraq war, the military action, and the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called the delay "incomprehensible" and said the public may "assume the report is being sexed down" by people facing criticism for their role in the war.

"The public have waited long enough and will find it incomprehensible that the report is not being published more rapidly than the open-ended timetable you have now set out," he said.

Chilcot said the final delay was caused by waiting for people being criticised in the report to be given a chance to respond.

In a formal reply, Prime Minister David Cameron made clear his frustration, saying he had wanted the report out "well before the forthcoming election".

But the Prime Minister ruled out forcing the inquiry to publish more quickly, saying, "It is important that the inquiry remains fully independent of government and therefore the timetable and processes for completing your work are entirely for you to decide ? not for the government".

Although the inquiry has never publicly set a deadline for publication, it has been plagued by delays with lengthy wrangling over what documents can be included in the final report.

The inquiry had reached an agreement last year with the UK government in which it would be allowed to refer to the "gist" of conversations and private correspondence between former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President George W Bush ? who were both in power during the war.

Blair is one of nearly 100 key witnesses in the inquiry and has dismissed claims that he may be the reason for the delay.