Chilcot redacted? Spies to scrutinize Iraq war report before publication

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair poses with troops in Basra December 17, 2006. © Eddie Keogh
Relatives of British soldiers killed in the Iraq war are concerned that the security services will vet the final version of the long-delayed Chilcot Inquiry report on the legality of the 2003 invasion ahead of its publication this summer.

Reg Keys, whose son Tom died in the conflict, believes the process could result in vital parts of the inquiry’s report being watered down.

Officials from MI5, MI6 and the Cabinet Office will receive access to Sir John Chilcot’s findings at the start of next week.

Chilcot and the government deny British spies will dilute the report, insisting the process is normal in inquiries that contain a considerable amount of sensitive material.

However, Keys said he wanted to know who would look through the report and how they might alter it.

Keys said he is worried there could be “cohorts of Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell going through” the findings. He said the group had to be “politically neutral.

There needs to be a referee almost – if someone says ‘I am taking this out,’ it needs to be shown to an independent person, otherwise it will be a whitewash,” he added.

Lance Corporal Tom Keys was one of six military policemen killed by a mob in Iraq in the opening stages of the invasion. 

After his son’s death, Reg Keys became one of the founders of Military Families Against The War.

He has proven to be a consistent thorn in the side of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led Britain into the war alongside the US.
In 2005, Keys stood as a parliamentary candidate in Blair’s constituency of Sedgefield.

Now he says it is “absolutely absurd” Chilcot and the government insist on publishing the report this summer, fearing it will be overshadowed by the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

If it is held up [until] after the referendum, it will be a ‘good day to bury bad news,’” he said. “Does the prime minister want to be juggling two heavyweight news items at the same time?

The Chilcot Inquiry began nearly seven years ago and is yet to report.

Last week, the Chilcot saga reached farcical heights when an inquiry-inquiry led by barrister Andrew Green QC was announced to examine why the Iraq war report has suffered such a prolonged delay.

Former Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis MP is leading a debate in Parliament this week to put pressure on the government not to delay the report’s publication further.

Davis said any delay is “frankly outrageous. This foot-dragging has been going on long enough. The whole country is fed up waiting for answers.”

He added that families of the 179 British soldiers killed in Iraq have waited long enough for the facts.

They have suffered for years as the inquiry has dragged on and on. Making them wait months longer, just because the government is worried about what (if any) impact the report may have on the referendum, would be unspeakably cruel.”