‘Act now, explain later’: What Blair told Bush TWO YEARS before Iraq war is revealed in eviscerating Chilcot report into Gulf debacle 

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  • Chilcot report into 2003 Iraq War criticises Tony Blair over the way he took Britain into the war alongside the US
  • Inquiry found that invasion was based on ‘flawed’ intelligence and war was ‘not the last resort’ at the time 
  • Blair was not prepared for the consequences of conflict despite ‘explicit warnings’ and bypassed peace for war
  • Secret email sent by Blair to George W Bush hours after 9/11 advised president to ‘act now and justify later’ 
  • He also wrote-off million-man march before war as ‘fatuous’ and a defence of the ‘most illiberal’ regime on earth 
  • Ex-PM today said he did not lie and ‘it was better to remove Saddam Hussein’ and acted in UK’s ‘best interests’
  • He said: ‘There were no lies, Parliament and the Cabinet were not misled, there was no secret commitment to war’
  • Families of 179 war dead call him ‘the world’s worst terrorist’ and promised to pursue him through the courts 
  • Mr Blair will be very unlikely to face war crime trial in The Hague – but British soldiers could still be prosecuted

The former prime minister was also accused of twisting intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to justify the war that led to the deaths of 179 British soldiers and left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead – but Mr Blair insisted this afternoon: ‘There were no lies – there was no deceit’.

After seven years of deliberations, the Chilcot report found that the former prime minister overplayed evidence about the dictator’s weaponry and ignored peaceful means to send troops into the country.

In a devastating set of conclusions, Sir John found Blair presented the case for war with ‘a certainty which was not justified’ based on ‘flawed’ intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

It also said Blair had ‘overestimated’ his ability to influence US president George W Bush and the way the legal basis was established was branded ‘far from satisfactory’ and bypassed the UN and undermined the international system.

And Blair was not prepared for the consequences of Iraq War despite ‘explicit warnings’ as he doggedly pursued an invasion, Sir John’s report said.

29 secret letters Mr Blair wrote to George W Bush were published for the first time today and in July 2002, eight months before MPs voted to back an invasion, Mr Blair had told the president: ‘I will be with you, whatever’. After 9/11 he told President Bush: ‘Act now, explain later’.

But after Sir John published his report today Tony Blair gave a 45-minute speech where he said Sir John proved ‘there were no lies, Parliament and the Cabinet were not misled, there was no secret commitment to war, intelligence was not falsified and the decision was made in good faith’.

And in a message to the families of the 179 servicemen and women who died in the Iraq War – who say Chilcot shows him to be ‘the world’s worst terrorist’ and he should be prosecuted – Mr Blair told them: ‘I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe.’

He added: ‘I can look those families and the country in the eye and tell them I did not mislead them. What I cannot do, and will not do, is say that the decision was wrong. I think the world is a safer and better place because of it. I cannot accept that they (British soldiers) died in vain’.

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A grim-faced Tony Blair leaves his London mansion before his part in bringing about the Iraq War was laid bare by Sir John Chilcot today in a excoriating report on his mistakes before and after the war

A grim-faced Tony Blair leaves his London mansion before his part in bringing about the Iraq War was laid bare by Sir John Chilcot today in a excoriating report on his mistakes before and after the war

Judgement day: Sir John Chilcot delivers his speech this morning

Judgement day: Sir John Chilcot delivers his speech this morning. Tony Blair, right, was heavily criticised over his planning of the war but he still denies he lied

Special relationship: George W. Bush  greets British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004 - Mr Blair had told him after 9/11: 'Act now, explain later', a secret memo revealed

Special relationship: George W. Bush greets British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004 – Mr Blair had told him after 9/11: ‘Act now, explain later’, a secret memo revealed

Mr Blair told the President in July 2002 'I will be with you, whatever' - but warned him the planning of war would be the 'toughest yet' in a lengthy memo weeks after discussing Iraq with the president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas 

Mr Blair told the President in July 2002 ‘I will be with you, whatever’ – but warned him the planning of war would be the ‘toughest yet’ in a lengthy memo weeks after discussing Iraq with the president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas

WMD threat from Iraq ‘not justified’ says Sir John Chilcot
Blair: ‘I express more sorrow and regret than you may ever know’

Unveiling his 2.6 million-word report into the UK’s most controversial military engagement since the end of the Second World War, Sir John said: ‘We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.

‘We have also concluded that the judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.

‘Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were under-estimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate. The Government failed to achieve its stated objectives.’

Message: Mr Blair was emotional as he told the families of the 179 British war dead: 'I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe' - but maintained the decision was made in good faith

Message: Mr Blair was emotional as he told the families of the 179 British war dead: ‘I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe’ – but maintained the decision was made in good faith

Among the main conclusions in the 2.6 million word report are:

  • There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein in March 2003 and Mr Blair took us to war ‘before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted’. Sir John said: ‘Military action at that time was not a last resort’
  • Mr Blair, his then foreign secretary Jack Straw and the government presented judgements about intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD with a ‘certainty that was not justified’.
  • Attorney General Lord Goldsmith only agreed that the invasion would be legal based on assurances from Mr Blair that Iraq had committed ‘material breaches’ of UN resolution 1441. But the inquiry said it was ‘unclear’ what evidence Mr Blair had for this and branded the process ‘far from satisfactory’.
  • Mr Blair, who has been frequently criticised for his ‘sofa government’ style, repeatedly failed to involve his whole Cabinet in key decisions.
  • The inquiry dismissed the ex-PM claims that he could not have known how difficult the post-invasion situation would be.
  • The government were aware that the US had ‘inadequate’ plans for stabilising Iraq but had little influence over key decisions such as dismantling Hussein’s Ba’ath party and security services.
  • The Ministry of Defence was slow to respond to the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and delays in providing more heavily armoured patrol vehicles for personnel were ‘intolerable’.
  • The ‘most consistent strategic objective’ in Iraq was to reduce the number of troops it had deployed there, particularly after operations in Afghanistan became more intense.
  • One symptom of the failures was that UK forces had to strike a ‘humiliating’ deal with militia in Basra to swap prisoners in return for an end to deadly attacks on soldiers.
  • Tony Blair has said that his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussain was taken ‘in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country’. 
  • He said: ‘I can look those families and the country in the eye and tell them I did not mislead them. What I cannot do, and will not do, is say that the decision was wrong. I think the world is a safer and better place because of it’. 

Sir John said Mr Blair was wrong to claim that the risks of instability following the invasion could not have been known in advance.

Although he made no judgment on whether military action was legal, Sir John’s seven-year inquiry found that Attorney General Lord Goldsmith’s decision that there was a legal basis for UK involvement in the US-led invasion was taken in a way which was ‘far from satisfactory’.

Previously unseen letters sent from Mr Blair to Mr Bush also show that nearly two years before the invasion the PM was suggesting they needed to ‘act now and explain and justify later’ to stop the spread of WMD.

Delivering the report’s damning findings – which will inevitably spark renewed calls for action against Mr Blair – Sir John Chilcot said: ‘The evidence is there for all to see. It is an account of an intervention which went badly wrong, with consequences to this day.’

Announcing the dramatic conclusions today, Sir John said: ‘More than 200 British citizens dies as a result of the conflict in Iraq. Many more were injured. This has meant deep anguish for many families, including those who are here today.

‘The invasion and instability in Iraq had, by July 2009, also resulted in the deaths of at least 150,000 Iraqis – and probably many more – most of them civilians. More than a million people were displaced.’

Fighting back Tony Blair said that his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussain was taken ‘in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country’.

He also insisted it was still ‘better to remove Saddam Hussein’ than allow the tyrant to continue in power, adding the inquiry proved there ‘was no falsification or improper use of Intelligence’, ‘no deception of Cabinet’ and ‘no secret commitment to war whether at Crawford Texas in April 2002 or elsewhere’.

In a grovelling apology for his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 and its bloody aftermath today he described the decision to invade Iraq the ‘most difficult of my career’ and accepted the ‘serious criticisms’ made of how his government went about making the decision.

Responding to the publication of the Iraq War report, his voice cracked as he said: ‘For all of this I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe.’

But he claimed the Iraq Inquiry proved ‘there were no lies’ from him over the justification for invading Iraq in March 2003 and showed neither Parliament nor Cabinet were misled.

As he fought to save his reputation after being savaged by Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report on the Iraq War, the former prime minister insisted his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein was taken ‘in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country’.

He vowed to take ‘take full responsibility for any mistakes’ made in Iraq but insisted it was still ‘better to remove Saddam Hussein’ than allow the tyrant to continue in power.

In a defiant statement issues minutes after the Chilcot report was published, Mr Blair said it had proved he did not act in ‘bad faith’ or ‘deceit’.

But Tory stalwart David Davis suggested Tony Blair may have lied to the House of Commons over why Britain went to war in Iraq.

In a now infamous claim, Mr Blair told MPs Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and later said intelligence showed the Iraqi tyrant could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes.

Mr Davis, a longstanding critic of the Iraq War, said: ‘The Prime Minister referred to the cause or the aim of this war as weapons of mass destruction, but if I can bring his attention again back to the document from Tony Blair to the American president.

‘It goes on later, after it says ‘I’ll be with you whatever’, later on in that document it says ‘the reason for this is getting rid of Saddam Hussein is the right thing to do.’ Regime change – not WMDs.

‘And this fact, and the fact that as Sir John Chilcot says Blair’s commitment made it very difficult for the UK to withdraw support for military action later on, this actually amounts to a deceit and a misleading of this House of Commons’.

Sir John Chilcot: Iraq invasion in 2003 ‘not a last resort’
Anger: Protestors unfurled a giant banner outside Tony Blair's central London home today calling for him to face a criminal trial

Anger: Protestors unfurled a giant banner outside Tony Blair’s central London home today calling for him to face a criminal trial

Dawn Holmes, the heartbroken mother of L Cpl Sarah Holmes, who died in Iraq, cries as she clutches a picture of her child after the Chilcot report was released

Sarah O' Connor, whose brother Sergeant Bob O'Connor also died, kisses his picture

Bereft: Dawn Holmes, the heartbroken mother of L Cpl Sarah Holmes, who died in Iraq, cries as she clutches a picture of her child after the Chilcot report was released while Sarah O’ Connor, whose brother Sergeant Bob O’Connor also died, kisses his picture

Grief: Families of the war dead at the Chilcot launch today - Mr Blair said that he would not apologise over the decision and said their lives had been given for the right cause

Grief: Families of the war dead at the Chilcot launch today – Mr Blair said that he would not apologise over the decision and said their lives had been given for the right cause

Anger: Families have said they were given no real time before today's announcement to read the full the report, which runs into 12 volumes and 2.6million words - and is three times longer than the complete works of William Shakespeare

Anger: Families have said they were given no real time before today’s announcement to read the full the report, which runs into 12 volumes and 2.6million words – and is three times longer than the complete works of William Shakespeare

Tony Blair told George Bush ‘he would be with him whatever’

FURY AS ‘DAMNING’ CHILCOT AS BLAIR WENT UNCHALLENGED

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that the report was ‘damning’, adding: ‘War not last resort, based on flawed, unchallenged intel and unsatisfactory legal decisions.’

Sir John’s report revealed that eight months before the UK Parliament approved military action in Iraq, Mr Blair had committed himself in writing to backing then US president George Bush over Iraq, telling him: ‘I will be with you whatever.’

Ms Sturgeon said that comment ‘suggests pre-determination and lack of proper decision making’.

She added that the ‘lack of preparation for aftermath and failure to properly equip/support troops for scale of challenge also appalling’.

Her predecessor Alex Salmond said: ‘It is now clear from the report that military action was not the last resort as Blair stood in Parliament on March 18 2003 to ask MPs to support his case for war.’

Mr Salmond, now the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster, added: ‘In the days, weeks and months ahead, the intimate detail of this report will only implicate further a former prime minister who recklessly committed the country to war without collective judgement, and personally failed to ensure there was a plan for delivering a future for the people of Iraq.

‘After such carnage, people will ask inevitable questions of was conflict inevitable and worthwhile? The answer from Chilcot is undoubtedly no. And who is responsible? The answer is undoubtedly Tony Blair. There must now be a consideration of what political or legal consequences are appropriate for those responsible.’

The inquiry examined the so-called notorious dossier published by the government on September 24, 2002, as Mr Blair started to lay the ground for a potential move on Iraq.

It claimed that Hussein’s regime had the ability to launch a WMD strike within 45 minutes.

Mr Blair told the House of Commons the same day that the threat from the dictator was severe and would become a reality at some point in the future.

But Sir John said: ‘The judgements about Iraq’s capabilities in that statement, and in the dossier published the same day, were presented with a certainty that was not justified.’

Former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell said the Chilcot report is the fourth inquiry to clear him of ‘sexing up’ a Government dossier on Iraq’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

While acknowledging that the report had uncovered ‘many mistakes’ in the preparation for war, Mr Campbell said its core findings had ‘laid to rest’ a string of allegations made by Tony Blair’s critics, including the claim that the former PM secretly pledged to join the US in military action at a 2002 meeting with president George Bush in Texas.

In a staunch defence of his former boss, Mr Campbell rejected claims that Mr Blair was ‘cavalier’ about military action, insisting that he did everything he could to prevent war and agonised ceaselessly about its possible consequences.

In a blog released shortly after the publication of the Iraq Inquiry report, Mr Campbell said: ‘That is four inquiries now which have cleared me of wrongdoing with regard to the WMD dossier presented to Parliament in 2002.

‘I hope that the allegations we have faced for years – of lying and deceit to persuade a reluctant Parliament and country to go to war, or of having an underhand strategy regarding the respected weapons expert David Kelly – are laid to rest.’

Sir John’s report, which is five times longer than Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Piece’ and three times longer than the complete works of William Shakespeare, criticised the ‘ingrained belief’ among UK policy formers and intelligence services that Iraq had retained WMD.

It said the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) had agreed the content of the dossier itself, and there was ‘no evidence’ that evidence was improperly included or that Downing Street influenced the text.

But the JIC was rebuked for not ensuring that its real assessment – that it had not been established beyond doubt that Hussein’s regime was still producing WMD – was not clear.

And the report said the way a foreword written by Mr Blair had been attached to the dossier would have given MPs and the public a different impression.

‘In the foreword, Mr Blair stated that he believed the ‘assessed intelligence’ had ‘established beyond doubt’ that Saddam Hussein had ‘continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons and that he had been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile programme’.’

The report went on: ‘The Inquiry is not questioning Mr Blair’s belief, which he consistently reiterated in his evidence to the Inquiry, or his legitimate role in advocating Government policy.

‘But the deliberate selection of a formulation which grounded the statement in what Mr Blair believed rather than in the judgements which the JIC had actually reached in its assessment of the intelligence, indicates a distinction between his beliefs and the JIC’s actual judgements…

‘The assessed intelligence at the time had not established beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons.’

While stressing that it did not have a remit to decide whether the invasion had been legal, the inquiry panel said they had ‘concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory’.

In mid-January 2003 Lord Goldsmith, the government’s chief law officer, told Mr Blair that a further Security Council resolution would be needed to provide a legal basis for action.

By the end of February the peer had told Mr Blair that although a second resolution would be preferable, a ‘reasonable case’ could be made under the existing UNSC 1441.

He put that advice in writing in on March 7.

However, after the military and civil service asked for more clarity he then stated that the ‘better view’ was that the legal basis was secure.

Families wanted to know  if Tony Blair did secretly agree to invade Iraq in 2002 (pictured together at Camp David that year) and then build a case towards war

Families wanted to know if Tony Blair did secretly agree to invade Iraq in 2002 (pictured together at Camp David that year) and then build a case towards war

Under pressure: Mr Blair, pictured with troops in Iraq in 2003, has been accused of 'misleading Parliament and the public' in taking the UK into the Iraq War and is facing calls for criminal action

Under pressure: Mr Blair, pictured with troops in Iraq in 2003, has been accused of ‘misleading Parliament and the public’ in taking the UK into the Iraq War and is facing calls for criminal action

Protests: Several demonstrators were wearing Tony Blair masks and painted blood on their hands as they called for Mr Blair to be prosecuted 

Protests: Several demonstrators were wearing Tony Blair masks and painted blood on their hands as they called for Mr Blair to be prosecuted

Movement: More than a million people marched in 2003 to protest against the war and many returned to central London today to repeat their concerns about what happened

Uproar: Protesters have returned to Whitehall to protest over the war afresh today after the report slammed the way it was planned 

Uproar: Protesters have returned to Whitehall to protest over the war afresh today after the report slammed the way it was planned

REVEALED: WHAT SECRET MESSAGES BETWEEN BLAIR AND BUSH TELL US ABOUT THE BUILD UP TO WAR IN IRAQ

Bush and Blair  in  the White House in July 2003. Blair both supported and exerted influence over the US President in the build-up to war, the emails reveal

Bush and Blair in the White House in July 2003. Blair both supported and exerted influence over the US President in the build-up to war, the emails reveal

September 12th, 2001

Hours after the 9/11 terror attacks, Blair called for tough action which ‘some will baulk at’.

‘There will be many who ask: what is the next stage of this evil?’

‘What of (the terrorists’) capacity to get hold of WMD? We know there are countries and individuals trading in WMD. We need a range of sanctions and pressures to stop this.

‘Some of this will require action that some will baulk at.

‘But we are better to act now… than let the day be put off until some further, perhaps even worse catastrophe occurs. I believe this is a real possibility.’

October 11th, 2001

One month after 9/11 and four days after air strikes against Afghanistan have begun, Blair urges Bush to focus on the Taliban and ‘deal with’ Iraq later. He added: ‘No doubt we need to deal with Saddam’.

‘But if we hit Iraq now, we could lose the Arab world, Russia, probably half the EU… I am sure we can devise a strategy for Saddam deliverable at a later date.’

December 3rd, 2001

In a phone conversation Blair on ‘how the next phase might proceed’. ‘It would be excellent to get rid of Saddam.’

But, he added: ‘There needed to be a clever strategy for doing this… An extremely clever plan would be required.’

December 4th, 2001

Blair sends Bush a paper setting entitled ‘The War on Terrorism: The Second Phase’.

Iraq is a threat because ‘it has WMD capability’ but most countries will be ‘reluctant’ to back an invasion.

Blair wants to ‘soften up’ public opinion which requires a ‘strategy for regime change that builds over time… until we get to a point where military action could be taken if necessary.’

‘We need to be clear that if an uprising occurs, we are willing to act militarily in support,’ he wrote.

July 28th, 2002

Blair tells Bush, ‘I will be with you, whatever.’

‘The planning on this and the strategy are the toughest yet. This is not Kosovo. This is not Afghanistan. This is not even the Gulf War. The military part of this is hazardous.’

‘We would support in any way we can… On timing, we could start building up after the break. A strike date could be Jan/Feb next year. But the crucial issue is not when but how.’

The former PM says getting rid of Saddam is ‘the right thing to do’ because ‘his departure would free up the region’.

He ‘couldn’t be sure of support from Parliament, Party, public or even some of the Cabinet’.

On Saddam being issued tough deadlines: ‘It would be ‘take it or leave it’. If he did say yes, we continue the build-up and we send teams over and the moment he obstructs, we say ‘he’s back to his games. That’s it’.

‘In any event he probably would screw it up and not meet the deadline. And if he came forward after the deadline we could just refuse to deal.’

To win over the public they must ‘recapitulate all the WMD evidence, add his attempts to secure nuclear capability and – as seems possible – add on the al-Qaida link.’

January 24th, 2003

‘In the US/UK view the failure fully to co-operate is enough now (to invade) and technically we are right. But we won’t carry other people. However if Blix carries on reporting non co-operation, makes increasing demands, and hardens his findings with each stage, I think we will carry people – even without the smoking gun – shortly’.

On casualties in an invasion ‘doing this in the context of international opposition would be very tough’.

On the prospect of civil war: ‘They are perfectly capable, on previous form, of killing each other in large numbers.’

Then Britain and US ‘would need the backing of the international community and preferably the UN to handle it’ or we would ‘get the blame for any fighting’.

January 30th, 2003

Letter sets out ‘military questions’ and ‘aftermath questions such as a new Iraqi Government or US-run?’

February 19th, 2003

People ‘are not against conflict in all circumstances. What they fear is that we are hell bent on war, come what may – that we don’t really want the UN to succeed.’

‘No-one is suggesting Saddam is co-operating fully. My faith in Blix is somewhat shaken, but he is key.’

‘We have to find a way of re-focusing the issue on the absence of full co-operation – and do so in a way that pulls public opinion and the UN Security Council waverers with us.’

Peter Brierley, pictured, father of Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley who was killed while serving in Iraq

Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, pictured, was one of the first soldiers to die in the conflict

Peter Brierley, left, whose son Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley was one of the first soldiers to be killed in the conflict, claimed Mr Blair ‘ordered young men and women to be killed on the basis of a lie’

Tony Blair giving evidence at the Chilcot report

Gordon Brown arriving to give evidence to the Chilcot report

The inquiry began when Gordon Brown, right, was prime minister and has heard extensive witness reports from the then government, including Mr Blair, left

On March 14, Lord Goldsmith asked Mr Blair to confirm that Iraq had committed further ‘material breaches’ of UNSC 1441, saying that was an essential part of his justification.

Mr Blair’s office responded that it was the PM’s ‘unequivocal view’ that there had been further breaches of the resolution.

But the report said: ‘It is unclear what specific grounds Mr Blair relied upon in reaching this view.’

THE CHILCOT REPORT IN NUMBERS

7 – Years since the Chilcot Inquiry was launched.

2,579 – Days between June 15, 2009, when the inquiry was announced on by then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and July 6, 2016, when the report is expected to be ready for private inspection and security check.

3 – Foreign secretaries to have been in the post since the inquiry was launched – David Miliband under Mr Brown, and William Hague and Philip Hammond under David Cameron.

2.3 million – Words estimated to be included in the report, making it almost four times longer than Leo Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace.

10 million – Estimated cost, in pounds, of the inquiry as of January this year.

179 – UK military personnel that died during the Iraq war.

Sir John said: ‘Given the gravity of the situation, Lord Goldsmith should have been asked to provide written advice explaining how, in the absence of a majority in the Security Council, Mr Blair could take that decision.’

Sources close to Mr Blair said today he will say that ‘the intelligence we received was wrong’ as his reputation is likely to be lacerated by Sir John’s report.

Families of British soldiers killed in the conflict, which started 13 years ago, have instructed solicitors to examine the report and consider dragging the former PM through the courts.

John Miller’s son, Simon, was one of six military policemen murdered in Iraq in 2003, and today he said of Mr Blair: ‘There’s got to be some kind of court case, be that In The Hague or elsewhere. I want to see him in the dock’.

Master Engineer Gary Nicholson, 42, from Hull, was one of 10 servicemen who died when their Hercules C-130 aircraft was shot down in 2005.

His mother Julia is boycotting the event and said: ‘It will be a whitewash. I’m absolutely disgusted. I’m not going because it will be a whitewash. Tony Blair has got blood on his hands. He will have covered his back and (George) Bush’s back’.

The families believe Mr Blair is guilty of ‘malfeasance in public office’ because he misused his constitutional powers which led to mass casualties. They could also seek to sue him for damages and secure compensation from his estimated £60million wealth.

Since the invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein tens of thousands of Iraqis have died in the civil war that followed with 250 being killed in a Baghdad car bomb on Sunday, the worst bloodshed since 2003.

Hopes Mr Blair could face a war criminal trial were dashed because Sir John said he could not rule on whether the invasion in 2003 was ‘legal’ and he was ‘not judge and jury’ of a court.

But to the fury of families it has emerged that prosecutors in The Hague have indicated they will pore over the 2.6 million-word report for evidence of war crimes by British troops.

A British soldier dives from a burning tank which was set ablaze in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in  2005. Critics have slated Mr Blair for starting a war, pictured, which killed 179 UK soldiers, claiming it contributed to the rise of ISIS 

A British soldier dives from a burning tank which was set ablaze in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in 2005. Critics have slated Mr Blair for starting a war, pictured, which killed 179 UK soldiers, claiming it contributed to the rise of ISIS

Sir John said families of soldiers were at the forefront of his mind during the inquiry and that there would be no 'whitewash'. A British soldier looks through the scope of his rifle after a roadside bomb attack that targeted their convoy in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) northeast of Baghdad September 12, 2008.

Sir John said families of soldiers were at the forefront of his mind during the inquiry and that there would be no ‘whitewash’. A British soldier looks through the scope of his rifle after a roadside bomb attack that targeted their convoy in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) northeast of Baghdad September 12, 2008.

Among the revelations of the report are details of 29 secret communications between former US president George Bush, left, and Mr Blair, right, in the run-up to the war

Among the revelations of the report are details of 29 secret communications between former US president George Bush, left, and Mr Blair, right, in the run-up to the war

The report, believed to have cost around £10million to produce, is published amid calls for former prime minister Tony Blair to be held to account for ‘misleading the public and Parliament’ when taking the UK into the conflict.

BAGHDAD HIT BY ISIS BOMB KILLING 250 IN WORST BLAST SINCE 2003

Crowded: The  suicide bombing killed at least 250 people

Crowded: The suicide bombing killed at least 250 people

An ISIS suicide attack that ripped through a packed Baghdad shopping centre has claimed the lives of at 250 people.

The bomb blast in Iraq’s capital is the deadliest attack in the country since the Iraq War started in 2003.

Some families have lost up to four relatives in the bombing, including four-year-old Ruqaya Al-Issa, who was killed alongside her shopkeeper father Hassan and two brothers, Hadi, 15, and Zaid, 17.

The family were among the hundreds of shoppers at the mall preparing for Eid festival when a truck laden with explosives was blown up outside by an ISIS suicide bomber.

‘We found Hassan’s daughter, Ruqaya, [but] her body was burnt and very difficult to identify,’ her distraught uncle, Ghader Al-Issa, told MailOnline.

‘I have lost four of my relatives. We could not find the rest of them and their bodies, but we know they are dead.

‘They could not have survived that devastation.’

Rescuers are continuing their gruesome task of searching for more victims of Saturday night’s attack, which was the single deadliest incident in Iraq’s war-weary capital in years.

Many of the victims’ bodies are so badly damaged that the task of identifying them presents an enormous challenge for authorities.

Among the most explosive revelations are the details of 29 secret letters, notes and conversations between Mr Blair and former US President George W. Bush in the run-up to war.

The leaders are alleged to have ‘signed in blood’ an agreement to oust Saddam Hussein in secret talks at the President’s ranch in Texas a year before the March 2003 invasion without telling MPs or the public – a claim denied by Mr Blair.

It came as families of soldiers who fought and died in the war said servicemen and women should not be made scapegoats for political failures, days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) said its prosecutors would comb through the 2.3 million word report for evidence of war crimes committed by British troops.

The families are set to clamour for some form of legal action against the former prime minister.

Karen Thornton, whose son Gunner Lee Thornton died in 2006 after being shot while on patrol in Iraq, said she wanted Mr Blair to face war crimes charges if it is proved he lied.

‘I just think it was all based on lies, I think everything that comes out of that man’s mouth has been a lie regarding Iraq,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘I think the people who lied should be held to account for what they have done,’ she said. Asked what that would mean, she said: ‘Charged with war crimes. They are responsible for the deaths of so many people.’

The parents of Senior Aircraftsman Peter McFerran, 24, from North Wales, who was killed in southern Iraq in 2007, arrived shortly before the report was released to families at 8am.

The couple had travelled to London from Flintshire and wore ‘Justice for Peter’ T-shirts.

Mr McFerran’s mother Ann, 64, said she was ‘apprehensive’ and ‘didn’t know what to expect’.

She said it was her husband Bob’s 73rd birthday and added: ‘The right outcome would be a good birthday present.’

Asked what that outcome would be, she replied: ‘Justice for Peter.’

Sarah O’Connor, whose brother, Sergeant Bob O’Connor, was killed when his Hercules plane was shot down in 2005, said the length of time it had taken to complete the report made ‘a mockery of the inquiry system’.

Speaking from London, she said: ‘For many people this has been – from the first knock on the door – that next step. But it has taken so long.

‘At the beginning, Sir John came around to the families and said we were at the forefront of the investigation. I had such faith in this process.

‘But it has been like the toner cartridge in a printer. What has started off strong and bold has now become just a faint line.

‘The length of time it has taken to get this has made a mockery of the inquiry system – for Iraq, for Rotherham … anybody who has found themselves on either side of the scales, this has taken too long. It’s been a farce.’

The inquiry is thought to have cost £10million so far, running to 12 volumes and a summary containing a total of 2.6 million words.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: ‘Tony Blair knowingly lied to the public to justify this war, and his actions have damaged public trust, damaged the UK’s standing in the world and crippled the ability of the UK to make humanitarian interventions. It is time he accepts responsibility and acknowledged his catastrophic mistake.’

The Chilcot Inquiry, set up in 2009, is looking at the UK’s decision to take part in the invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein, whether troops were properly prepared, how the conflict was conducted and what planning there was for its aftermath.

Issues covered will include the diplomatic build-up to the invasion following the September 11 attacks in 2001 through to the end of UK combat operations in 2009.

It will look at equipment failures, amid evidence British troops were not given adequate protection, and the descent of Iraq into bloodshed and violence since Saddam Hussein was toppled.

‘I will be with you, whatever’: Blair’s fawning messages to George Bush reveal he complimented US President on a ‘great speech’ and signed off ‘Yours ever, Tony’

The fawning letters sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush in the build-up to the Iraq war shows the chummy relationship between the President and Prime Minister, who signs off one hand-written letter ‘Yours ever, Tony’.

One message shows that, in the hours after the 9/11 attacks, Blair told Bush they should immediately tackle states and individuals with weapons of mass destruction and justify it later.

In a private note to the US President on September 12, 2001, Mr Blair both offered support to bring to justice the hijackers who destroyed the Twin Towers and looked ahead to the ‘next stage after this evil’.

In documents revealed for the first time by Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry, Mr Blair said some would ‘baulk’ at the measures necessary to control ‘biological, chemical and other WMD’.

But he urged the President: ‘We are better to act now and explain and justify our actions than let the day be put off until some further, perhaps even worse catastrophe occurs.’

Messages which passed between Tony Blair and George W Bush in the build-up to the Iraq war have been published today

Messages which passed between Tony Blair and George W Bush in the build-up to the Iraq war have been published today

 Mr Blair told the President in 2002 ‘I will be with you, whatever’ – but warned him the planning of war would be the ‘toughest yet’

The memo from September 12 makes no reference to Iraq specifically but warns: ‘We know that there are countries and individuals trading in WMD and/or trying to acquire them. We need a range of sanctions and pressures to stop this.’

The Iraq Inquiry today published for the first time a raft of private correspondence sent by Mr Blair to Mr Bush from the period before, during and after the 2003 invasion.

In the months and years ahead of the March 2003 attack, the revelations expose efforts by Mr Blair to both support and exert influence over the US President.

In late 2001, Mr Blair was encouraging Mr Bush to focus on the campaign in Afghanistan and not mix the two objectives.

By July 2002, Mr Blair had told the President ‘I will be with you, whatever’ – but warned him the planning of war would be the ‘toughest yet’ and was more difficult than Afghanistan, Kosovo or the 1991 Gulf War.

In the final weeks before the 2003 invasion, Mr Blair’s notes focus on pushing Mr Bush to pursue a second UN resolution explicitly authorising war.

But in his conclusions, Sir John said the UK took ‘false comfort’ from its perceived involvement in US decision making. The Inquiry does not reveal Mr Bush’s replies.

The detail of the 2.6 million word report recounts that after attending a memorial service for the British victims in New York on September 20, 2001, Mr Blair travelled to Washington for a meeting with President Bush.

The inquiry reveals the record, noted in a letter by Britain’s US Ambassador Sir David Manning, shows Mr Blair assured the President he believed Saddam was evil and told him: ‘Before any action was taken against him, we would need to be very sure indeed there was compelling evidence.

‘It would be best to deal with Afghanistan initially and then take our time to see whether we could build up the case against Iraq or other countries.’

Around three weeks later, Mr Blair appears to be attempting to rein in the president’s immediate ambitions to take on Iraq – but indicates support for action against Saddam ‘at a later date’.

A handwritten letter from Tony Blair to Bush complements the president on a 'great speech' which 'puts us on exactly the right strategy'

A handwritten letter from Tony Blair to Bush complements the president on a ‘great speech’ which ‘puts us on exactly the right strategy’

In another message, Blair said he was struggling for support at home - confessing that even Cabinet members were against him

In another message, Blair said he was struggling for support at home – confessing that even Cabinet members were against him

On October 11, 2001, in a section of a note entitled ‘extending war aims’, Mr Blair said there was a ‘real willingness in the Middle East’ to remove Saddam – but warned him of ‘total opposition’ to doing so in connection with operations in Afghanistan.

Mr Blair said he ‘no doubt we need to deal with Saddam’ and added: ‘But if we hit Iraq now, we would lose the Arab world, Russia, probably half the EU.

WHAT THE SECRET MESSAGES BETWEEN BLAIR AND BUSH REVEAL

September 12th, 2001

Hours after the 9/11 terror attacks, Blair called for tough action which ‘some will baulk at’.

‘There will be many who ask: what is the next stage of this evil?’

‘What of (the terrorists’) capacity to get hold of WMD? We know there are countries and individuals trading in WMD. We need a range of sanctions and pressures to stop this.

‘Some of this will require action that some will baulk at.

‘But we are better to act now… than let the day be put off until some further, perhaps even worse catastrophe occurs. I believe this is a real possibility.’

October 11th, 2001

One month after 9/11 and four days after air strikes against Afghanistan have begun, Blair urges Bush to focus on the Taliban and ‘deal with’ Iraq later.

He added: ‘No doubt we need to deal with Saddam’.

‘But if we hit Iraq now, we could lose the Arab world, Russia, probably half the EU… I am sure we can devise a strategy for Saddam deliverable at a later date.’

December 3rd, 2001

In a phone conversation Blair on ‘how the next phase might proceed’. ‘It would be excellent to get rid of Saddam.’

But, he added: ‘There needed to be a clever strategy for doing this… An extremely clever plan would be required.’

December 4th, 2001

Blair sends Bush a paper setting entitled ‘The War on Terrorism: The Second Phase’.

Iraq is a threat because ‘it has WMD capability’ but most countries will be ‘reluctant’ to back an invasion.

Blair wants to ‘soften up’ public opinion which requires a ‘strategy for regime change that builds over time… until we get to a point where military action could be taken if necessary.’

‘We need to be clear that if an uprising occurs, we are willing to act militarily in support,’ he wrote.

‘I am sure we can devise a strategy for Saddam deliverable at a later date.’

Mr Blair visited Washington again on November 7 for talks with Mr Bush about the Afghanistan campaign.

But the Inquiry uncovered a private note handed to Mr Bush by the PM which under a section on ‘international initiatives’ referred to the need for a new UN resolution on Iraq and a wider ‘WMD agreement’.

The public record of the talks makes no mention of Iraq.

Government records show a further telephone call between the two leaders five days later, on November 12 but no official record of the conversation has been found. The inquiry said other sources indicate the subject was Afghanistan.

The inquiry concluded that in December 2001, Mr Blair did not have ‘military action of any sort in mind’ but did note Mr Blair was prepared to militarily support a rebellion in Iraq were one to occur.

However, after Mr Bush named Iraq in his 2002 state of the union address as a ‘regime that has something to hide from the civilised world’, Mr Blair and Mr Straw began to argue in public that Iraq had to be dealt with.

Mr Blair then discussed the issue with Mr Bush in Crawford, Texas, on April 5 and 6, 2002, and agreed a partnership based on an ultimatum to Iraq over the readmission of weapons inspectors. Mr Bush agreed to consider the idea.

Cabinet Office papers report Mr Blair told the President at the Crawford meeting that the UK would support military action if certain conditions – relating to a coalition, the Israel/Palestine crisis and UN weapon inspectors – were met.

By July 2002, Mr Blair wrote to Mr Bush to set out the framework for the partnership and told him: ‘I will be with you, whatever.

‘But this is the moment to assess bluntly the difficulties.

‘The planning on this and the strategy are the toughest yet. This is not Kosovo. This is not Afghanistan. It is not even the Gulf War.’

He urged him the military part of the plan was ‘hazardous’ but said getting rid of Saddam was ‘the right thing to do’, adding that ‘containment… is always risky’.

The Inquiry said the note reflected Mr Blair’s own views and said they had not been discussed with colleagues in the Cabinet.

Weeks later, President Bush addressed the UN General Assembly on September 12, 2002, to set out the ‘grave and gathering danger’ posed by Saddam in Iraq, challenging the UN to stand up to Iraq if it refused to meet its obligations.

Mr Bush said the ‘first time’ the world may be certain of Saddam’s possession of nuclear weapons is ‘when… he uses one’ and told the UN: ‘We owe it to all our citizens to prevent that day from coming.’

In a handwritten note to the president the same day, Mr Blair said it was a ‘brilliant speech’ that ‘put us on exactly the right strategy to get the job done’.

He said: ‘The reception has been very positive with everyone now challenged to come up to the mark. Well done.’

In the next item of private correspondence, around three months before the invasion, Mr Blair warned the President on January 24, 2003, that if UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix could not find a ‘smoking gun’ there was a risk ‘the thing drags on forever until we give up or get distracted’.

He said: ‘The world is in contradiction. No one is really prepared for war, except us.

‘But equally no one believes Saddam is telling the truth. In part we are victims of our own success.

‘Your strength… has forced Saddam to let inspectors back in; has made him seem weak and back in his box. So everyone asks: why bother?’

Mr Blair used the note to press the case for a second UN resolution, insisting it would be ‘the best protection’ for a ‘military hitch’ or protracted campaign.

He told the President delay was not necessary for military preparation but the extra month could help find the smoking gun, make Saddam ‘crack’ and build political support at home and abroad.

In a subsequent phone call, Mr Blair proposed setting a deadline of a month later and told Mr Bush: ‘If this were not achievable, military action would follow anyway.’

In another message between the pair, Blair says he thinks few other European countries will join a coalition without UN authority

In another message, Blair gives his views on North Korea, branding the regime 'mad and bad'. He says they should be 'brought into' a deal

In another message, Blair gives his views on North Korea, branding the regime ‘mad and bad’. He says they should be ‘brought into’ a deal

The messages reveal the Prime Minister told Bush after the September 11 attacks that they should go after states with weapons of mass destruction

The messages reveal the Prime Minister told Bush after the September 11 attacks that they should go after states with weapons of mass destruction

Chilcot: Blair and Straw ‘undermined UN Security Council’

In a note entitled ‘countdown’ on January 30, 2003, Mr Blair advised the President he believed more time would bring public and international opinion around to military action without a smoking gun.

The note set out a timetable for action, anticipating further reports from Mr Blix on February 14 and 28 that were each ‘harder on non-co-operation’ than the previous document.

It said the timetable could be ‘shortened if either dramatic find by Blix or 14 February report sufficiently hard; lengthened but not beyond end March if resolution takes more time’.

At a meeting the following day, Mr Blair assured Mr Bush he was ‘solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam’ after Mr Bush agreed to support a second resolution.

It was clear at the meeting military action had a narrow window and could begin ‘around March 10’.

In the press conference which followed the meeting, the position was left publicly ambiguous but a clear message was given that Saddam was running out of time.

The Inquiry concluded that while Mr Blair’s strategy was discussed in general by the Cabinet on January 30 there was no ‘detailed and in depth analysis’ of it it and no alternative options were considered.

In a further note on February 19, 2003, Mr Blair told the President that public opinion was ‘not against conflict in all circumstances.

‘What they fear is we are hell bent on war, come what may, that we don’t really want the UN to succeed’.

The PM insisted this fear was ‘absurd’ and said the heart of the issue was a ‘confusion between active and passive cooperation’ from Saddam.

Talk of going after countries with WMDs started between the pair the day after terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre

Talk of going after countries with WMDs started between the pair the day after terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre

Mr Blair warned the French-German view was to give inspectors time to ‘sniff out’ weapons but said this could take ‘months or years’.

He told Mr Bush: ‘Our view, which is correct, is that time is irrelevant unless he is cooperating fully and actively. If he isn’t, the time needed is just the time necessary to make a judgement as to his cooperation: is it full or not. And actually no one… is seriously suggesting Saddam is cooperating fully.’

Mr Blair said the ‘trick’ was to re-focus debate onto ‘full co-operation’.

And he told Mr Bush he would speak to Mr Blix the following day to try and ‘tie’ him to the proposed timetable.

Mr Blair said there was a risk Saddam ‘might conceivably fully comply’ but that this was unlikely and delaying military action by a week might increase the ‘very slim’ chances of securing a second resolution by the end of February.

He told Mr Bush: ‘A successful second resolution would be an enormous success for your diplomacy over the last few months.’

In a phone call the same day, the two leaders agreed on a draft resolution and Mr Blair said it was a ‘defining moment’.

Mr Blair told the President winning nine UN votes for the second resolution was vital to him securing Parliamentary approval.

But within days, the attempt to secure a second UN resolution would collapse but Mr Blair tested the House of Commons anyway on March 18, 2003.

Mr Blair won the vote and told President Bush British forces would join the invasion when it began the next day.

‘I didn’t lie!’ Defiant Tony Blair claims Chilcot report proves he didn’t act in ‘bad faith or deceit’ and declares his decision to go to war in Iraq was in the ‘best interests of the UK’

Tony Blair claimed today the Chilcot report proved he didn’t lie over the justification for invading Iraq in 2003.

As he fought to save his reputation after being savaged by Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report on the Iraq War, the former prime minister insisted his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein was taken ‘in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country’.

He vowed to take ‘take full responsibility for any mistakes’ made in Iraq but insisted it was still ‘better to remove Saddam Hussein’ than allow the tyrant to continue in power.

In a defiant statement issues minutes after the Chilcot report was published, Mr Blair said it had proved he did not act in ‘bad faith’ or ‘deceit’.  

Tony Blair (pictured leaving his house this morning) said he will take 'take full responsibility for any mistakes' made in Iraq but insisted it was 'better to remove Saddam Hussein'

Tony Blair (pictured leaving his house this morning) said he will take ‘take full responsibility for any mistakes’ made in Iraq but insisted it was ‘better to remove Saddam Hussein’

Tony Blair, pictured leaving his London home this morning

Tony Blair, pictured leaving his London home this morning

As he fought to save his reputation after being savaged by Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report on the Iraq War, the former prime minister Tony Blair (pictured leaving his London home this morning) insisted his decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein was taken ‘in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country’

Legal basis for Iraq war ‘far from satisfactory’ says Chilcot

His reputation was lacerated in today’s report – published this morning seven years after it was launched.

Sir John delivered more severe criticisms of Mr Blair than many expected, with the former premier accused of twisting intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to justify an invasion.

The Chilcot report, which runs to 2.6 million words, found that the former prime minister overplayed evidence about the dictator’s weaponry and ignored peaceful means to send troops into the country.

In a devastating set of conclusions, Sir John found Mr Blair presented the case for war with ‘a certainty which was not justified’ based on ‘flawed’ intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

It also said Blair had ‘overestimated’ his ability to influence US president George W Bush and the way the legal basis was established was branded ‘far from satisfactory’ and bypassed the UN and undermined the international system.

But Mr Blair, issuing a statement minutes after Sir John had finished delivering a press conference, insisted the report ‘should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit’ against him.

In his statement in response to the long-awaited Chilcot inquiry, Mr Blair promised to issue the lessons he believes can be learned by future leaders from his experience in Number 10.

A defiant Mr Blair wrote: ‘The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit.

‘Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.’

Current prime minister David Cameron said future governments will learn all the lessons from the Chilcot inquiry but insisted we should ‘not conclude that intervention is always wrong’.

In a statement in response to the Chilcot report in the House of Commons this afternoon, he told MPs: ‘If we are to take difficult decisions to intervene in other countries, then proper planning is vital.’

Sir John Chlicot (pictured) delivered more severe criticisms of Mr Blair than many expected, with the former premier accused of twisting intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to justify an invasion

Sir John Chlicot (pictured) delivered more severe criticisms of Mr Blair than many expected, with the former premier accused of twisting intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to justify an invasion

Sir John’s report said the circumstances in which Mr Blair and Attorney General Lord Goldsmith decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action in Iraq were ‘far from satisfactory’.

He also said there was ‘no imminent threat’ from Saddam at the time of the invasion and the intelligence about his weapons of mass destruction was ‘flawed’.

But Mr Blair said the report found there was ‘no falsification or improper use of intelligence’, ‘no deception of Cabinet’ and ‘no secret commitment to war’ was given to US President George Bush.

He said the report ‘does not make a finding on the legal basis for military action but finds that the attorney general had concluded there was such a lawful basis’ by March 13 2003.

Mr Blair said: ‘The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.’

He acknowledged the Chilcot report made ‘real and material criticisms’ of ‘preparation, planning, process and of the relationship with the United States’.

Mr Blair, who will set out a full response to the report later, said: ‘I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse.

‘I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world.

‘Above all I will pay tribute to our armed forces. I will express my profound regret at the loss of life and the grief it has caused the families, and I will set out the lessons I believe future leaders can learn from my experience.’

‘I WILL TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY MISTAKES WITHOUT EXCEPTION OR EXCUSE:’ TONY BLAIR’S FULL STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO CHILCOT

Minutes after Sir John Chilcot published his long-awaited report into the Iraq War Tony Blair issues a statement vowing to take ‘full responsibility for any mistakes’.

The report savaged the former prime minister’s legacy as it delivered a devastating set of conclusions. Here is Mr Blair’s full response:

‘The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.

‘I note that the report finds clearly:

– That there was no falsification or improper use of Intelligence (para 876 vol 4)

– No deception of Cabinet (para 953 vol 5)

– No secret commitment to war whether at Crawford Texas in April 2002 or elsewhere (para 572 onwards vol 1)

‘The inquiry does not make a finding on the legal basis for military action but finds that the Attorney General had concluded there was such a lawful basis by 13th March 2003 (para 933 vol 5)

However the report does make real and material criticisms of preparation, planning, process and of the relationship with the United States.

‘These are serious criticisms and they require serious answers.

‘I will respond in detail to them later this afternoon.

‘I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse.

‘I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world.

‘Above all I will pay tribute to our Armed Forces. I will express my profound regret at the loss of life and the grief it has caused the families, and I will set out the lessons I believe future leaders can learn from my experience.

‘Tony Blair is the world’s worst terrorist’: Tearful families of those killed in the Iraq War plan to take legal action against former PM as they demand he ‘look us in the eye’ 

The sister of one of the soldiers killed in the demanded that Tony Blair ‘look me in the eye’ as families revealed they plan to take legal action against the former prime minister, following today’s long-awaited report into the conflict.

Relatives said they had not had enough time to fully take in the report by Sir John Chilcot, having had just ‘180 minutes, one for every death’ to read it, but would be undertaking a forensic analysis of the findings, and reserved the right to take any further action necessary.

And at an emotional press conference following the report’s release held by some of the relatives and their lawyers, Sarah O’Connor, whose brother, Sergeant Bob O’Connor died in the conflict, said Blair should ‘look us in the eye’, as she described him as ‘the world’s worst terrorist’.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon, 19, was killed in Iraq holds the hand of Sarah O'Connor, whose brother Bob also died in the conflict

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon, 19, was killed in Iraq holds the hand of Sarah O’Connor, whose brother Bob also died in the conflict

At an emotional press conference following the report's release held by some of the relatives and their lawyers, Ms O'Connor said Blair should 'look us in the eye', as she described him as 'the world's worst terrorist'

At an emotional press conference following the report’s release held by some of the relatives and their lawyers, Ms O’Connor said Blair should ‘look us in the eye’, as she described him as ‘the world’s worst terrorist’

A tearful Ms O’Connor, who sat next to Rose Gentle, the mother of teenage soldier Gordon who was killed at just 19, and gripped her hand tightly slammed the time it had taken for the report to be released, and said her overwhelming response was ‘anger’.

‘That healing that 11-and-a-half years I was working for,’ said Ms O’Conner, whose brother died when his Hercules plane was shot down in 2005. ‘I have gone back to that time when I learned my brother had been killed.

‘There’s one terrorist that the world needs to be aware of and his name’s Tony Blair. The world’s worst terrorist.’

Demanding that the former Prime Minister face the families, furious Ms O’Connor said: ‘Look me in the eye. Why is he not here? Look at our eyes and our faces. Look me in the eye.’

Ms O'Connor, pictured holding a photograph of herself and her brother, demanded of Blair 'look at our eyes and faces. Look me in the eye'

Ms O’Connor, pictured holding a photograph of herself and her brother, demanded of Blair ‘look at our eyes and faces. Look me in the eye’

Victoria Jones, sister of Leading aircraftman Martin Beard who was killed in the Iraq war, holds a copy of the Chilcot Report as she is comforted by a friend

Victoria Jones, sister of Leading aircraftman Martin Beard who was killed in the Iraq war, holds a copy of the Chilcot Report as she is comforted by a friend

Family members leave the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre after reading the report. They have said they need to analyse the findings further before deciding what action to take

Family members leave the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre after reading the report. They have said they need to analyse the findings further before deciding what action to take

Streams of family members had filed into the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London shortly before 8am to be appraised of Sir John Chilcot’s historic report, hours before it was presented to the public.

Speaking after the report they thanked Sir John and said they were ‘pleased’ with the way the report was conducted, but added in a statement: ‘Never again must so many mistakes be allowed to lead to the sacrifice of so many British Lives, and the destruction of a country with no aim.’

They said they reserve the right to call ‘specific people’ to answer for their actions in court, after they have fully analysed the findings, adding: ‘All options will be considered.’

The families’ lawyer, Matthew Jury, said: ‘The families have waited a long time for today to come. They have acted with patience, courage and dignity throughout this entire process.’

He said those who were criticised in the report ‘knew what was coming’ and had time to prepare statements and defences.

Relatives of military personnel killed in the Iraq war listen to the emotional press conference following the release of the report

Relatives of military personnel killed in the Iraq war listen to the emotional press conference following the release of the report

The families thanked Sir John and said they were 'pleased' with the way the report was conducted, but added in a statement: 'Never again must so many mistakes be allowed to lead to the sacrifice of so many British Lives, and the destruction of a country with no aim'

The families thanked Sir John and said they were ‘pleased’ with the way the report was conducted, but added in a statement: ‘Never again must so many mistakes be allowed to lead to the sacrifice of so many British Lives, and the destruction of a country with no aim’

In a statement, Mr Jury said: ‘The three hours the families were given this morning is not long enough for anybody to properly take in two and a half million words, or even a 150-page summary.

‘Today is a day the families should be at the forefront of everybody’s minds. But so too should be the thousands of British soldiers wounded in Iraq, the tens of thousands of British veterans who served there, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who died during the conflict and since.

‘The families are pleased that the inquiry has discharged its duties without fear, favour or prejudice. However, they are of course saddened that it appears to have been confirmed that their loved ones died unnecessarily and without just cause or purpose.

‘In the coming days and weeks, the families will undertake a full and forensic review of the report’s content and conclusions.

‘If state officials are determined to have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers then the families will then decide on whether to take any necessary and appropriate action at the proper time. All options will be considered.

‘Just as importantly, as well as examining the culpability of individual state officials, we must also look at the process that led to the war so that we never make such grave mistakes with such tragic long-term and far-reaching consequences again.’

ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATORS TAKE TO THE STREETS DEMANDING ‘TRUTH AND JUSTICE’ OVER IRAQ CONFLICT

Anger: Michael Culver, 78, stands outside the London home of former Prime Minister Tony Blair today

Anger: Michael Culver, 78, stands outside the London home of former Prime Minister Tony Blair today

Anti-war campaigners staged a demonstration in Westminster today as Sir John Chilcot presents his long-awaited report on the UK’s role in the Iraq war.

Leaders of the Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other groups will demand ‘truth and justice’.

There will also be calls for former prime minister Tony Blair and others involved in the conflict to face the full force of the law.

It comes as the report, which has taken seven years to produce, is expected to criticise Mr Blair’s role in the war, although it will not question its legality.

Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said: ‘The Iraq war was a disaster, a disaster that began with a lie.

‘If Tony Blair and other politicians responsible had told the truth it would never have happened. A country was destroyed, millions of innocent Iraqis were killed, British soldiers were killed, and terrorism has spread across the Middle East. Those responsible must now be brought to justice.

‘We seek from the Chilcot Inquiry an accurate reckoning of the factors involved and finally to get clarity from the British state about this disastrous war. But it must not end there.

‘The anti-war movement will gather in Westmister to demand truth and justice. It comes down to a principle – where individuals, no matter how lofty, are found to be responsible for crimes, they should face the full force of the law. No-one is exempt from justice.’

Chris Nineham, of the Stop the War Coalition, said: ‘What the majority of people want from the next few days is an open admission that the war on Iraq was disastrous, illegal and wrong in itself, and that those who took us into it, led by Tony Blair, did so knowingly and by lying to people and Parliament.

‘Anything short of this will surely confirm people’s suspicions that the Chilcot circus has been yet another convoluted attempt at a cover-up.

‘Over the next few days, and for as long as it takes, Stop the War will be campaigning for the truth about Iraq to be publicly acknowledged.

‘Many people also want to see that being a public figure and extremely rich doesn’t exempt you from being held accountable when you commit crimes.

Tony Blair called the million-man march on London’s streets against the Iraq War ‘fatuous’ and a defence of the ‘most illiberal’ regime on earth 

Tony Blair blasted the biggest protest march in British history as ‘fatuous’ in a memo to George W Bush days after the UK and US launched the Iraq War.

In a note titled ‘The Fundamental Goal’, Mr Blair told the US President a poor communications strategy ahead of the war had left ‘wholly warped views’ of American politics in Europe and elsewhere.

The then-Prime Minister advised him to ‘keep the policy’ of tackling terror and weapons of mass destruction but to ‘change the presentation’.

More than a million people marched on Parliament on February 15, 2003, in an attempt to persuade MPs not to back the invasion but Tony Blair said it was 'fatuous' 

More than a million people marched on Parliament on February 15, 2003, in an attempt to persuade MPs not to back the invasion but Tony Blair said it was ‘fatuous’

In an extract from his memo to Mr Bush, Mr Blair blamed 'wholly warped views' for inspiring 'fatuous' protests 

In an extract from his memo to Mr Bush, Mr Blair blamed ‘wholly warped views’ for inspiring ‘fatuous’ protests

Mr Blair said Mr Bush was right to want to spread freedom by delivering security and told him: ‘That’s why, though Iraq’s WMD is the immediate justification for action, ridding Iraq of Saddam is the real prize.’

But spelling out the problem of securing support, he told him: ‘The problem is that a ludicrous and distorted view of the US is clouding the enormous attraction of the fundamental goal.

‘In other words, rational people are behaving very stupidly. Europe is the immediate focus of this problem. But it is not confined to Europe.

‘The problems is we’re not communicating with the rest of the world in a way they understand.

‘They get wholly warped views of the so-called right in American politics, played back through their media; until we end up with fatuous irony of millions of liberal-minded people taking to the streets effectively to defend the most liberal regime on earth.’

In the note, dated March 26, 2003, and published for the first time by the Chilcot Inquiry today, Mr Blair said people ‘want to feel and see the US reaching out, explaining, trying to seek a collective way through’.

Mr Blair, seen today leaving home, made the claim in a memo to George Bush called 'The Fundamental Problem' days after the 2003 invasion began 

Mr Blair, seen today leaving home, made the claim in a memo to George Bush called ‘The Fundamental Problem’ days after the 2003 invasion began

And he advised: ‘We need a strategy for this after the conflict is won. Doing it now would look like weakness.

‘Afterwards it will look like magnanimity, from a position of strength, recognising the past months have not been as we wanted it.’

Mr Blair told his closest ally it was still possible ‘to get the international community to accept your agenda’ even after the controversial war had begun.

The exposure of the claims is likely to further enrage critics of the former prime minister in the wake of the damning Chilcot Inquiry.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reflected today on the vast protest march in February 2003, just weeks before a Commons vote gave the green light for British involvement in the Iraq War.

WHO’S WHO IN THE CHILCOT INQUIRY: THE LEADING FIGURES IN THE BUILD-UP TO THE IRAQ WAR

Tony Blair

Elected as Prime Minister with a landslide in 1997, Blair became the strongest ally of the US after the 9/11 attacks, regularly meeting George W Bush and forming a close friendship.

Having supported military intervention in Kosovo and Sierra Leone earlier in his premiership, he became a strong advocate of so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’.

He made the case for invading Iraq in 2002 on the back of a dossier in which he claimed intelligence had ‘established beyond doubt’ that Saddam Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.

The war and the implosion of Iraq since the invasion have become the defining events of Blair’s term in power and claims he should be tried for war crimes have dogged his work since he resigned in 2007.

Tony Blair

George W Bush

Lord Goldsmith (right) was the  UK government's main legal adviser

Tony Blair (left) and George W Bush (centre) made the case for war. Lord Goldsmith (right) was the  UK government’s main legal adviser

George W Bush

Elected US President in January 2001, he was only eight months into his first time when the September 11 attacks took place, rocking the US and shocking the world.

The son of former president George HW Bush, who had overseen the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein in 1991, George W Bush launched the ‘War on Terror’ in response to 9/11, which included large-scale military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After the swift collapse of Hussein’s regime, Bush made a speech on board a US aircraft carrier in May 2003 beneath a banner proclaiming ‘Mission Accomplished’.

Following his re-election in 2004, Bush faced increased criticism as the situation in Iraq deteriorated and went on to claim the lives of more than 4,000 US servicemen and women.

Lord Goldsmith

As Attorney General at the time of the invasion, he was the main legal adviser to Tony Blair and the government.

Lord Goldsmith advised on the legality of going to war and initially said a second UN resolution was necessary authorising force if necessary.

However, he changed his opinion in March 2003 after meeting with US officials. He then said that UN accords on Iraq from the 1990s justified an invasion.

The 66-year-old, who resigned as Attorney General in 2007, has denied his the change in his views was due to political pressure.

Jack Straw

Straw was Blair’s foreign secretary during the Iraq war and once said that Britain would not have joined the conflict if he had opposed the war.

The former minister was involved in gaining legal backing for the invasion after rejecting advice from Foreign Office advisers that the war would be illegal.

Straw, now 69, has since described going to war as ‘the most difficult decision I have ever faced’, but has insisted Britain’s involvement was ‘justified’.

Jack Straw

Alastair Campbell

Sir Richard Dearlove

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (left), spin doctor Alastair Campbell (centre) and MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove (right) were also involved

Alastair Campbell

Campbell was Tony Blair’s director of communications between 1997 and 2003, managing the government’s internal relationships and handling the media.

He was heavily involved in the campaign behind making the case for war in 2002 and 2003, but has denied claims he ‘sexed up’ the second dossier of intelligence, often called the ‘dodgy dossier’. He told Chilcot: ‘I defend every single word of the dossier.’

Campbell resigned in August 2003 during the Hutton Inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr Kelly.

Sir Richard Dearlove

As head of the MI6 – a position known as ‘C’ – between 1999 to 2004, Sir Richard and his agents were responsible for the intelligence reports which were used to justify the invasion.

His role in build-up to war is disputed but he is understood to have warned ministers that intelligence was being ‘fixed around policy’ by the US.

There have been claims that Sir Richard was too close to Blair and Campbell and helped in the alleged ‘sexing up’ of the dossiers, which all three men deny doing.

Much of his evidence to Chilcot was redacted for security reasons, but it is known he branded claims he was too close to Blair ‘complete rubbish’.

Dr David Kelly

A distinguished government scientist who was a former UN weapons inspector and had worked in Iraq.

He became the centre of the argument over the invasion of Iraq when he gave a briefing to a BBC journalist which led to a report that claims about Hussein’s weapons had been ‘sexed up’.

After Dr Kelly was outed as the source of the story he was found dead in woodland near his Oxfordshire home. It is understood he felt his reputation had been tarnished and his death was ruled a suicide.

Hans Blix

The Swedish diplomat was chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq in the build-up to the war and his views on the extent of tyrant’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) became of huge importance.

In 2002, he said he believed the Iraqi regime did have such weapons but by 2003 he said his inspectors had not found any. He urged Western powers to give him more time before launching an invasion.

Blix has said he believes the invasion of Iraq was illegal and has accused the Pentagon of smearing him to help justify the war.

Dr David Kelly (left) took his own life after he was outed as a source of a story criticised the case for war

UN weapons inspector Hans Blix was in charge of looking for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq during the build-up to war

Dr David Kelly (left) took his own life after he was outed as a source of a story criticised the case for war. UN weapons inspector Hans Blix (right) was in charge of looking for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq during the build-up to war.

179 dead: The brave British servicemen and women who lost their lives in the Iraq War

The six-year Iraq War claimed the lives of 179 British servicemen and women before the conflict came to an end in May 2009.

According to a study of the war-torn nation, an estimated 461,000 Iraqis were also killed between March 2003 and June 2011 as a direct or indirect result of the fighting.

Here are the faces of the British men and women who died for their country:

(left to right top row) Captain Philip Guy, Naval Rating Ian Seymour, Warrant Officer 2nd Class Mark Stratford (Silhouette), Marine Sholto Hedenskog, Lance Bombardier Llywelyn Evans, Colour Sgt John Cecil, Major Jason Ward, Sergeant Les Hehir, Lt Philip Green, Lt Tony King; Lt James Williams, Lt Philip West, Lt Marc Lawrence, Lt Andrew Wilson, Flight Lt Kevin Main, Flight Lt Dave Williams (Silhouette), Sapper Luke Allsopp, Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth, Sergeant Steven Roberts, Lance-Corporal Barry Stephen;

(left to right second row) Corporal Stephen Allbutt, Trooper David Clarke, Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, Royal Marine Christopher Maddison, Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, Major Stephen Ballard, Staff Sergeant Chris Muir, Lance Corporal Karl Shearer, Fusilier Kelan John Turrington, Lance Corporal Ian Malone, Piper Christopher Muzvuru, Lt Alexander Tweedie, Lance Corporal James McCue, Private Andrew Kelly, Gunner Duncan Pritchard (Silhouette), Corporal David Sheppard (Silhouette), Leonard Harvey, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, Corporal Russell Aston, Corporal Paul Graham Long;

(left to right third row) Corporal Simon Miller, Lance Corporal Benjamin McGowan Hyde, Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, Captain James Linton, Private Jason Smith (silhouette), Captain David Jones, Major Matthew Titchener, Warrant Officer Colin Wall, Corporal Dewi Pritchard, Fusilier Russell Beeston, Sergeant John Nightingale, Corporal Ian Plank, Private Ryan Thomas, Major James Stenner (Silhouette), Sergeant Norman Patterson (Silhouette), Lance Corporal Andrew Craw, Rifleman Vincent Windsor, Sapper Robert Thompson, Corporal Richard Ivell, Fusilier Gordon Gentle;

(left to right fourth row) Flight Lt Kristian Gover (Silhouette), Private Christopher Rayment, Private Lee O’Callaghan, Private Marc Ferns, Lance Corporal Paul Thomas, Fusilier Steven Jones, Corporal Marc Taylor, Gunner David Lawrence (Silhouette), Private Kevin McHale, Staff Sergeant Denise Rose, Private Paul Lowe, Sergeant Stuart Gray, Private Scott McArdle, Private Pita Tukatukawaqa (Silhouette), Sergeant Paul Connolly (Silhouette), Squadron Leader Patrick Marshall, Flight Lt David Stead, Flight Lt Andrew Smith, Flight Lt Paul Pardoel, Master Engineer Gary Nicholson;

(left to right fifth row) Chief Technician Richard Brown, Flight Sergeant Mark Gibson, Sergeant Robert O’Connor, Corporal David Williams, Acting Lance-Corporal Steven Jones, Private Mark Dobson, Guardsman Anthony Wakefield, Lance-Corporal Alan Brackenbury, Signaller Paul Didsbury, 2nd Lt Richard Shearer, Private Philip Hewett, Private Leon Spicer, Fusilier Donal Meade, Fusilier Stephen Manning, Major Matthew Bacon, Captain Ken Masters, Sergeant Chris Hickey, Sergeant John Jones, Lance Corporal Allan Douglas, Corporal Gordon Pritchard;

(left to right sixth row) Trooper Carl Smith, Captain Richard Holmes, Private Lee Ellis, Lt Richard Palmer, Flight Lt Sarah-Jane Mulvihill, Wing Commander John Coxen, Lt Commander Darren Chapham, Lt David Dobson, Marine Paul Collins, Private Joseva Lewaicei, Private Adam Morris, Lt Tom Mildinhall, Lance Corporal Paul Farrelly, Corporal John Cosby, Corporal Matthew Cornish, Gunner Samuela Vanua, Gunner Stephen Wright, Gunner Lee Thornton, Lance Corporal Dennis Brady, Lt Tom Tanswell;

(left to right seventh row) Kingsman Jamie Hancock, Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, Warrant Officer 2nd Class Lee Hopkins, Marine Jason Hylton, Corporal Ben Nowak, Sergeant Jonathon Hollingsworth (Silhouette), Sergeant Graham Hesketh, Sergeant Wayne Rees, Kingsman Alex Green, Private Michael Tench, 2nd Lt Jonathan Bracho-Cooke, Private Luke Daniel Simpson, Rifleman Daniel Coffey, Private Jonathon Dany Wysoczan, Kingsman Danny Wilson, Rifleman Aaron Lincoln, Corporal Kris O’Neill, Second Lieutenant Joanna Yorke Dyer, Kingsman Adam James Smith, Private Eleanor Dlugosz;

(left to right eighth row) Colour Sergeant Mark Powell, Sergeant Mark J McLaren, Corporal Ben Leaning, Trooper Kristen Turton, Kingsman Alan Joseph Jones, Rifleman Paul Donnachie, Major Nick Bateson, Private Kevin Thompson, Corporal Jeremy Brookes, Corporal Rodney Wilson, Lance Corporal James Cartwright, Major Paul Harding, Corporal John Rigby, Corporal Paul Joszko, Private Scott Kennedy, Private James Kerr, Rifleman Edward Vakabua, Lance Corporal Ryan Francis, Corporal Christopher Read, Aircraftsman Peter McFerran;

(left to right ninth row) Senior Aircraftsman Matthew Caulwell, Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Dunsmore, Lance Corporal Timothy Darren ‘Daz’ Flowers, Corporal Steve Edwards, Private Craig Barber, Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard, Lance Sergeant Chris Casey, Corporal Kirk Redpath, Sergeant Eddie Collins (Silhouette), Sergeant Mark Stansfield, Lance Corporal Sarah Holmes, UNIDENTIFIED(Silhouette), Trooper Lee Fitzsimmons, Guardsman Stephen Ferguson, Sergeant Duane ‘Baz’ Barwood, UNIDENTIFIED(Silhouette), Lance Corporal David Kenneth Wilson, Corporal Lee Churcher (Silhouette), Private Ryan Wrathall.

The shambles of Britain’s military equipment revealed: Government failed to act after soldiers were killed in ‘mobile coffin’ Land Rovers by IEDs, Chilcot finds 

Military and political leaders failed to act quickly enough to counter the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and provide better armoured vehicles to British forces occupying Iraq, today’s Chilcot Inquiry found.

Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was ‘slow’ in responding to the potential for casualties from the home-made bombs, which became an everyday problem faced by British personnel in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

He laid into delays in providing an additional type of Protected Patrol Vehicles (PPVs) which was not ordered until 2006, after ministerial intervention, despite initial work on sourcing it starting ‘before 2002’.

The widespread use of the light 'snatch Land Rover' during the conflict has long been criticised by many families of those killed in the conflict. Soldiers reportedly nicknamed the vehicles 'mobile coffins' because of the limited protection they gave to roadside IEDs

The widespread use of the light ‘snatch Land Rover’ during the conflict has long been criticised by many families of those killed in the conflict. Soldiers reportedly nicknamed the vehicles ‘mobile coffins’ because of the limited protection they gave to roadside IEDs

The widespread use of the light ‘snatch Land Rover’ during the conflict has long been criticised by many families of those killed in the conflict.

Soldiers reportedly nicknamed them ‘mobile coffins’ because of the limited protection they gave to roadside IEDs and families of several of those killed are suing the MoD over their use.

Forces taking part in Operation Telic, as the invasion and occupation was known, also suffered from a shortage of helicopter support and equipment for what is known as Istar – intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, the report found.

Sir John’s report said: ‘Between 2003 and 2009, UK forces in Iraq faced gaps in some key capability areas, including protected mobility, Istar and helicopter support.

‘It was not sufficiently clear which person or department within the MoD had responsibility for identifying and articulating capability gaps.

‘Delays in providing medium weight protected patrol vehicles (PPVs) and the failure to meet the needs of UK forces in MND (SE) (Multi-National Division South East – the British sector of Iraq) for Istar and helicopters should not have been tolerated.

‘The MoD was slow in responding to the developing threat in Iraq from improvised explosive devices. The range of protected mobility options available to commanders in MND (SE) was limited. Although work had begun before 2002 to source an additional PPV, it was only ordered in July 2006 following ministerial intervention.’

The report added that, while there were no funding barriers to introducing a new PPV, it criticises the Executive Committee of the Army Board for instead concentrating on its Future Rapid Effect System programme, which was focused on bigger armoured vehicles.

It added: ‘The decision to deploy troops to Afghanistan had a material impact on the availability of key capabilities for deployment to Iraq, particularly helicopters and Istar.’

HOW PRIVATE PHILLIP HEWETT WAS KILLED IN A SNATCH LAND ROVER – ONE OF MANY VICTIMS OF BRITAIN’S INADEQUATE MILITARY EQUIPMENT

The 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment soldier Private Phillip Hewett (pictured) was killed when the Snatch Land Rover he was in struck a bomb near the town of al-Amarah on July 16, 2005. He was 21

The 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment soldier Private Phillip Hewett (pictured) was killed when the Snatch Land Rover he was in struck a bomb near the town of al-Amarah on July 16, 2005. He was 21

Eight years ago, Private Phillip Hewett died on a dusty battlefield in Iraq.

The 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment soldier was killed when the Snatch Land Rover he was in struck a bomb near the town of al-Amarah on July 16, 2005. He was 21.

The ‘Snatch’, originally used to grab rioters in Northern Ireland, weighs 3.5tons and has a 3.5-litre V8 engine. Costing £60,000, it has become notorious for its lack of protection against roadside bombs and 37 UK personnel have been killed in them.

Since his death, Private Phillip Hewett’s mother Sue Smith has fought her own battle – with the Ministry of Defence. She argued that the Government breached his human rights by negligently failing to provide adequately armoured vehicles.

MoD chiefs insisted that they could not be held liable because the troops died on the battlefield and not on a British army base or in the UK.

She took her fight to the High Court and the Appeal Court without success but finally triumphed two years ago.

The UK’s highest court said the Government owed a duty of care to properly equip and train troops sent to war, but Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he was ‘concerned’ that it could make it ‘more difficult for troops to carry out operations’.

Private Philip Hewett was one of three of the men were killed when their controversial Snatch Land Rovers were blown up by roadside bombs. The poorly protected vehicles – nicknamed ‘mobile coffins’ because of their vulnerability to blasts – were finally replaced in 2008.

Private Lee Ellis, 23, of Wythenshaw, Greater Manchester, was killed in February 2006; and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath, 22, of Romford, Essex, died in August 2007.

EXCLUSIVE – ‘The British people were told lies… now my country has been destroyed’: Orphan who became symbol of invasion after losing arms in Iraq bomb blast demands answers from Tony Blair but REFUSES to be pitied 

Ali Abbas, now 25, lost his parents and his arms in the 2003 invasion

Ali Abbas, now 25, lost his parents and his arms in the 2003 invasion

Ali Abbas will never be allowed to forget the suffering caused by the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Ali was orphaned, lost both of his arms and suffered horrendous burns. He was just 12-years-old and his plight came to symbolise the terrible cost of the war.

But, today, as Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report into the Iraq war is published, this remarkable young man refuses to let pity reign.

Ali tells MailOnline: ‘These findings are not going to change anything in Iraq or for me.

‘It is about past events. I need to look to the future. I am trying to find a job. That’s what I need to put my energy into.

‘I came to Britain for treatment when I was 12-years-old. I am now 25 and I want to find a job that I can do despite my challenges. But I lack so much confidence because I don’t have arms.

‘My life changed forever when Iraq was invaded.’

Ali is often asked if he feels bitter.

But he says: ‘I’m not sure that it is bitterness or even hatred I feel. I feel terribly sad that life as I knew it was taken from me that night.

‘My mother was putting me to bed. My father was killed too. My arms were placed in their grave.

‘I miss my family and the memories that get cloudier as time goes on. And the regrets, the regrets that I didn’t have longer growing up as a normal Iraqi child.’

He says he is interested to know from the Chilcot report more about Tony Blair’s claim of Weapons of Mass Destruction and about his plans to rebuild Iraq once occupation began.

‘The reasons they invaded were economical reasons, nothing to do with all these claims about weapons. They just did not exist. The British people were told lies. Now the situation is so much worse,’ he says.

‘There are weapons on the streets, there are no police, no laws.

‘Hundreds of people have been killed in suicide bombs in just the last few days alone. My country has been destroyed.

Disappointment: Ali, now 25, is not bitter but is devastated at the long term impact on his country, telling MailOnline: 'Hundreds of people have been killed in suicide bombs in just the last few days alone. My country has been destroyed'

So brave: The 12-year-old lost his mother and father in the horrific attack yet has rebuilt his life with incredible bravery

Disappointment: Ali, now 25, is not bitter but is devastated at the long term impact on his country, telling MailOnline: ‘Hundreds of people have been killed in suicide bombs in just the last few days alone. My country has been destroyed’

Agony: Ali Abbas was 12 when he was wounded during an airstrike during the 2003 invasion of Iraq 

Agony: Ali Abbas was 12 when he was wounded during an airstrike during the 2003 invasion of Iraq

‘I met Tony Blair once, at a charity event. I didn’t know what to say to him really. I was just young, maybe 14. Now, I might have a few questions though, like – ‘Do you regret going to war?’

‘I love Britain and I am so grateful for the kindness that so many people have shown me since 2003. But it should not have come to this.

‘Tony Blair and George Bush should not have gone to war.

‘Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, a dictator, but removing him did not mean all was then good in Iraq.

‘Everyone I know has a friend or relative that has been killed. Funerals are a normal part of life now.

Recovery: Ali Abbas, right and Ahmed Hamza, left, were flown to Britain for treatment after the US missile attack in which he lost his arms

Recovery: Ali Abbas, right and Ahmed Hamza, left, were flown to Britain for treatment after the US missile attack in which he lost his arms

Therapy: Ali Abbas, pictured aged 14, settled in to life in Britain and is now 25 and looking for a job 

Energy: Despite the horrific injuries he suffered, Ali was pictured playing football and and thrived at school in Wimbledon 

Energy: Despite the horrific injuries he suffered, Ali was pictured playing football and and thrived at school in Wimbledon

‘Saddam was bad but now so many Saddam’s have been created and it is so much worse than it was under his rule.’

My mother was putting me to bed. My father was killed too. My arms were placed in their grave.
Ali Abbas

In military jargon Ali Abbas and his family are collateral damage.

A US missile slammed into their home in Baghdad, an unintended target. It was the 11th night of the Iraq war.

He says: ‘Our house was on fire. There was screaming. I was literally burning. Our neighbour found me. I was the only one alive.’

He suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body and was trapped in a dilapidated Baghdad hospital besieged by looters.

He would almost certainly have died but was airlifted first to Kuwait and then to London for treatment.

When Ali arrived in the UK he spoke little English.

But the headmaster of a private school in south London heard of his plight and offered him a free place.

Bright: Ali, who has a verbal reasoning IQ of 140, soon integrated into British life despite speaking little English when he arrived 

Ali, who has a verbal reasoning IQ of 140, soon integrated.

He has embraced British culture without forgetting his roots.

He never misses a Manchester United game but prays every day. And he is as happy to tuck into fish and chips as a halal chicken kebab. He is now the proud holder of both British and Iraqi passports.

Ali was fitted with prosthetic limbs but he finds them cumbersome and heavy and prefers, most of the time, to try and use his feet.

He is an expert at using his feet for tasks such as cleaning his teeth, painting and using the phone and computer.

He says: ‘I do have skills to offer and I’m sure there is a job out there for someone like me.

‘An apology from Bush and Blair would be nice but I can’t see that happening and it won’t bring back my parents or my arms. My focus needs to be on the future now.’

HOW BRITAIN AND US BROUGHT WAR TO IRAQ AND THE SEVEN LONG YEARS WAITING FOR CHILCOT INQUIRY TO END

A statue of Saddam Hussein is toppled in Baghdad in April 2003. The optimism at his overthrown turned to horror as the country descended into bloody civil war with opposing militias and terror groups killing tens of thousands

A statue of Saddam Hussein is toppled in Baghdad in April 2003. The optimism at his overthrown turned to horror as the country descended into bloody civil war with opposing militias and terror groups killing tens of thousands

THE PATH TO WAR

2001

September 11 – Suicide attacks on New York and Washington spark international crisis as US and its allies declare war on terror – and those who harbour terrorists. 

2002

April 6: Blair heads to the US to meet George W Bush in Texas where the president is said to have demanded Blair’s assurances he would back an Iraq war stance on Iraq ‘tightened’ and it is claimed he gave an ‘undertaking in blood’ to support a US invasion.

July 24: Attorney General Lord Goldsmith tells Downing Street self-defence and humanitarian intervention are no basis for war. Warns Blair in writing he can’t agree to war with U.S. without UN support

September 24: Labour government publish their first dossier, which contains claim Saddam Hussein had ability to set off weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.

November 8: UN Security Council pass Resolution 1441 declaring Iraq in ‘material breach’ of its obligations and need for weapons inspectors to return 

2003

January 14: Tony Blair given draft advice saying another resolution authorising use of force is needed. Legal advice continues to say that war would not be legal without it.

January 30: The so-called ‘dodgy dossier’ is published, but later emerges it was based on internet research

February 27: Lord Goldsmith tells No10 he’s changed his mind, giving ‘green light’ for war 

March 18: MPs vote to back war by 412 to 149

March 20: Invasion begins.

THE CHILCOT REPORT

Evidence: On an extraordinary day Tony Blair is forced to give evidence to the inquiry but insists he did not go to war on the basis of a 'lie' and has no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein

2009

June 15: Prime Minister Gordon Brown announces that a panel of privy councillors led by Sir John Chilcot will conduct an inquiry of ‘unprecedented’ scope, covering the lead up to the invasion from summer 2001 to the withdrawal of the main body of British troops earlier that year.

July 30: Sir John says late 2010 is ‘probably the earliest possible’ date for his report to be published.

November 11: The first public hearings take place.

2010

January 29: Tony Blair makes his long-awaited appearance before the inquiry and insists he did not go to war on the basis of a ‘lie’, has no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein and would do the same again. Audience members shout ‘liar’ and ‘murderer’ as he leaves.

March 5: Prime Minister Gordon Brown defends his decision to curb defence spending after the Iraq invasion and tells the inquiry he provided money every time defence chiefs asked for new equipment. Days later he admits he was wrong to claim the defence budget had risen in real terms every year under Labour and will clarify his evidence. 

2011 

November 17: The Iraq Inquiry says its report will be delayed by six months because of wrangling over the release of secret documents.

2012

July 16: Sir John writes to David Cameron alerting him to a further delay and revealing letters to people who were set to be criticised would not start to be sent until the middle of 2013.

2014

May 16: Mr Cameron says he is frustrated by delays, but hopes the report will be published by the end of the year. 

2015

August 13: Families of soldiers killed in the Iraq War threaten legal action if a publication date for the report is not set within two weeks. 

August 26: In the face of mounting criticism over delays in publishing the report, Sir John issues a statement saying he understands ‘the anguish of the families of those who lost their lives in the conflict’, but adds ‘it is critically important that the report should be fair’. 

October 25: Mr Blair apologises for aspects of the Iraq War, sparking claims of attempted ‘spin’ ahead of the Chilcot Inquiry findings. The former prime minister uses a US television interview to express regret over the failure to plan properly for the aftermath of the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein and the false intelligence used to justify it. 

2016 

May 6: The chairman of the inquiry writes again to the Prime Minister, this time confirming a date for publication of July 6, 2016.

July 6: The inquiry committee intends to publish the Report of the Iraq Inquiry. It will include all but the most sensitive information which could threaten national security. Parliament will then debate the findings. Family members of some of the victims are expected in London for the findings, with a protest planned by Stop The War Coalition.

Iraq War: A timeline of events from war to the Chilcot Inquiry

Read more to watch videos: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3676748/Chilcot-s-damning-verdict-Blair-Inquiry-Iraq-war-slams-former-PM-misrepresenting-intelligence-dodgy-legal-advice-hubris-failing-protect-troops-says-did-not-need-invade.html#ixzz4DdmBfRSM
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