Are the wheels coming off the Chilcot inquiry? The Lib Dems arent the only ones to accuse it of failing its first test with former JIC chief John Scarlett, he of the notorious 45 minute claim. I admit this badly knocked my own confidence in the panel. The gap between Blair lying and Blair self-deception is narrowing as the inquiry progresses. Now former DPP Ken Macdonald, a top lawyer whose very job was to know the exact weight of words, launches a blistering attack on Tony Blair for tricking and cajoling the British people into war. Even the hapless Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth admits Blair mightnt have won the Commons vote if they had known Blair wanted war regardless of WMD. Chilcot rushes to assure that although Blair will be heard partly in private, hell still receive a public grilling. This is prcisely what Macdonald doubts Chilcot has the skills and outlook to deliver. Macdonald extract on Blair below. It seems that the contempt felt by some mandarins for his fancier footwork around the weapons of mass destruction is finally showing in a belated settling of scores. Discretion is fading like toothache and the feast of revenge is as tempting as it is cold.
Yet the position of the inquiry panel is uncertain. So far, apart from some interventions by Sir Roderic Lyne, the former ambassador in Moscow, its questioning has been unchallenging. If this is born of a belief that it creates an atmosphere more conducive to truth, it seems naive. The truth doesnt always glide out so compliantly; sometimes it struggles to be heard. Sometimes it takes cover in a shelter that is entirely self-serving.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London