by Ray Fleming

First it was to be May of last year. Then this summer (at the earliest). Now the end of next year is the target for publication of the official Chilcot report on events leading to the Iraq war of 2003. Yesterday Sir John Chilcot sent a letter to David Cameron complaining at the delay caused by the continuing lack of cooperation from Whitehall in providing essential documents about Tony Blair's discussions and correspondence with US President Bush and in making available minutes of Cabinet meetings at which the legality of the war is known to have been discussed. In his letter Sir John points out that in their published books Mr Blair himself and his director of communications Alastair Campbell have referred to apparently privileged information to which his Committee cannot gain access for its report. The main obstacle is the Cabinet Secretary -- initially Gus, now Lord, O'Donnell and currently Sir Jeremy Heywood, both of whom believe that the privacy of the channel between the British prime minister and American president must be protected. But without some knowledge of what passed between them it will never be known whether Tony Blair lied to his Cabinet and the House of Commons about the extent of his personal commitment to George W Bush to support the misguided American invasion of Iraq, even after his Attorney General expressed doubts about its legality.

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