“How Chilcot made that mistake is not known…”

So, Sir John Chilcot is shelving his inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War until after the general election (still five months away). Interestingly, Chilcot also features as a player in the very early stages of the NI Peace Process.

In a long detailed piece by Owen Bennett-Jones for the London Review of Books which discusses the origins of the claim that it was the Provisionals who led with a communication suggesting that ‘the conflict is over.’

His argument is that the Peace Process may have started with a an exaggeration, “or what others might call a falsehood”. Bennett Jones:

To ascribe the note to McGuinness was a big extra leap for Fred to make. The British government, after all, could have interpreted it as an IRA surrender. Major was fully aware of the importance of the sourcing: he asked for confirmation that it really was from McGuinness. The permanent undersecretary of state at the Northern Ireland office, John Chilcot, assured the prime minister it was.

‘What we told him,’ Chilcot recalled, ‘was, having worked it through and done some digging: yes it was authentic, it was from McGuinness and it was spoken with authority.’ How Chilcot made that mistake is not known, but one possibility is that he asked Fred and got the confirmation he wanted. Or he might himself have used deliberately ambiguous language, telling the prime minister that the message came from McGuinness in the sense that it accurately reflected McGuinness’s thinking.

Hmmmm… Well, that’s creative ambiguity for you… The whole process which has followed has been marked by that central characteristic, which more lately has become the two narrative approach to history and politics.

It’s rather inconvenient at this critical stage of his inquiry into Iraq, the dodgy dossier et al, that he may also have had form in finessing the actualite


  • chrisjones2

    “he may also have had form in finessing the actualite…”

    Wash your mouth out with soap!!!! May I remind you that you threatened me with a red card last week for something just as scurrilous and libelous – even if expressed in much more plebeian tones.

    In any case one assumes that Sir John, well aware of the importance of what he was doing, would have been precise and cautious but may have had access to some other material supplied by the securocrat mice that infested Stormont . That material may not be in the public domain and legally he might not have been able to share it directly with the PM although it could have influenced his presentation?

  • Korhomme

    Curious, isn’t it, just how long some Inquiries take? How long did Lord Saville’s inquiry take, and how long was it before his inquiry was established? How long before an inquiry into the ‘Hillsborough96’ happened?

    Equally curious, you might think, is how rapidly other inquiries are established and report. How long was it before the Widgery report was available, or the Hutton report (into the death of Dr David Kelly); or, from another era, the Denning report (into the ‘Profumo Affair’)? Strange, too, that the epithet ‘whitewash’ has been applied to all three.

  • Sliothar

    What’s the betting that you can’t get a new copy of Roget’s Thesaurus within a 30 mile radius of Westminster?
    Hmmm….., ‘finessing the actualite’ – it’s too similar to English. ‘Carruthers, run out and see if you can get a thesaurus in Assyrian like a good chap’.

  • Korhomme

    The Chilcott Inquiry was established by Gordon Brown in 2009; Brown wanted it to be held in secret.

  • Korhomme

    The original phrase seems to have been ‘economical with the truth’ (Burke 1796). As ‘economical with the actuaité’ it was, apparently, used by Alan Clarke in 1992. This phrase, or something like it was also used by Sir Robert Armstrong, the UK Cabinet Secretary, during the ‘Spycatcher’ trial in Australia in 1986.

  • chrisjones2

    Perhaps they were seen as whitewashes becasue the assumption that Judges nmake good leaders and investiogators is nonsense> They are the wrong pople to lead inquiries

  • chrisjones2

    can’t get a new copy of Roget’s Thesaurus within a 30 mile radius of Westminster?

    You can at Victoria and at night the Palace must creak as the meaning of words is twisted out of recognition to hide the awful truths

  • SeaanUiNeill

    On the subject of “Spooks and mandarins”, John, notably Butler-Sloss was considered to be suspect as someone to head of the inquiry into allegations of child abuse by politicians and other powerful figures because, amongst many other things, she attempted to enshrine in law the principal of “Soverign immunity” for heads of state in courts cases. Her reasons were:

    “Once the press are aware of this they will dig a great deal deeper and there will be a great deal of information which they will be able to put into the public domain.”

    The appeal court judges reviewing her decision in the case she was trying, considered she had “misdirected herself” in making her judgement.

    The biggest single problem in all of this is the vast social network of friendships and contacts that constitutes the political establishment in the UK. People simply owe others, who may be offenders, too many favours, or see themselves as potentially just as vulnerable to public exposure for very different things they may have done in their careers or private life.

  • $136050377

    Which Palace are you talking about?
    If you mean Windsor , than Prince Andrew will be doing his own verbal Olympics.
    Apart from anything else..How does somebody with ALL the chances he had in life..End up Peddalling arms?
    The Unionist Morality..Which is ALL so-correct in other areas is quite about this chappie.
    If it wasn’t for the facts that unionists have more faces than big Ben..I’d be shocked..Gobsmacked even..But alas Dear Roderick..I know them TOO well.

  • chrisjones2

    Which Palace are you talking about?

    Doh! Westminster

    End up Peddalling arms?

    Why shouldnt he. You can make a fortune

    “it wasn’t for the facts that unionists have more faces than big Ben..I’d be shocked”

    The usual casual raciust nonsense I expect here

  • chrisjones2

    Can you point a country anywhere where by definition the elite aren’t the elite

  • $136050377

    “End up Peddalling arms?

    Why shouldnt he. You can make a fortune”

    The usual duality to morals..I expect here….from Unionists.
    You are a credit to your orange brethern.
    And you have just proved my point for me.
    The £5 is all yours.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, sure, all elites tend to act in a manner that protects them from having to account to anyone else. But what I’m saying is that actually enshrining in law rights of anonymity and immunity for a specific catagory, rulers, is something new. While this is something that seems to have been going on unofficilaly for centuries, it has not before been suggested as a legal precedent in a modern democratic country, as far as I know. If it had been Trickey Dickie might still be sitting in the Whitehouse!