THERE were some signs at yesterday's Chilcot inquiry that the panel may be edging towards some provisional conclusions. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, was asked if he could reconcile the three rather different reasons for the decision to go to war against Iraq given by Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Gordon Brown. These were said to be: Blair-- removal of Saddam Hussein as a threat to the whole Middle East region; Straw -- Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction; Brown -- need to uphold international credibility by upholding previous UN resolutions passed against Iraq. Mr Miliband seemed unwilling to say that any of his distinguished former and current colleagues was right or wrong but did stress Saddam Hussein's deliberate refusal to be bound by previous resolutions.

This issue picks up Mr Blair's careless comment in a television interview earlier this year that there had always been more than one good reason for invading Iraq and that if the absence of weapons of mass destruction had been detected sooner one of the other reasons would do just as well. Another curiosity of these considerations is Mr Miliband's view that the United Nations can be strengthened in one respect by action in another that does not have the UN's authority. The fact that Britain's Attorney General said at the last moment that the invasion was lawful, did not make it so.