Sir John Chilcot doesn’t seem all that bothered by the threats of censure from politicians over his lengthy Iraq Inquiry. In a statement released this afternoon, Sir John dismissed the demands from No.10, MPs and the media to produce his report, or even a timetable for producing the report. He explained that the process of letting those criticised in the report respond— known as ‘Maxwellisation’ — is still on going and won’t be rushed:
‘Individuals have not been given an open-ended timescale and Maxwellisation is not a process of negotiation. The Inquiry has remained in control of its deadlines throughout the process. In some cases, the response sent to us required detailed and complex analysis which has taken time.
‘We expect to receive the last responses to our Maxwellisation letters shortly. That will allow us to complete our consideration of the responses, to decide what further work will be needed, and to provide the Prime Minister and thus Parliament and the public with a timetable for the publication of our work.’
Chilcot also revealed he has written to the lawyers representing a group of families who are threatening legal action over the delays, but declined to comment on what he said.
This statement means that the mooted plans to censure Chilcot in the House of Commons are likely to go ahead. The Times reported earlier this week that critics of the Inquiry are plotting various ways to exert more pressure on Sir John and the fact he is publicly resisting will only increase their determination.
The pressure is increasing on all sides: former Labour minister Clare Short has described the inquiry as a ‘very, very poor’ piece of work, the UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has told Chilcot to publish ‘sooner rather than later’, while it has been reported that the criticisms will spread beyond Tony Blair’s inner circle. When the Commons returns on 7 September, taking some form of action to pile more pressure on Chilcot will be a top priority for many MPs.