21/01/2011

Blair Testifies At Iraq Inquiry

Tony Blair has been called for a second time to give evidence in the Iraq Inquiry.

Earlier this year, the former Prime Minister defended his decision to go to war, saying that Saddam Hussein was a "monster" before stating that he had no regrets.

However, the inquiry have requested "more detail" in some areas.

Following the last hearing, Chairman Sir John Chilcot said there could be further hearings due to gaps in evidence.

After facing 106 written questions by the chairman and other panel members a year after his first appearance, the former prime minister responded with a 26-page written answer before today's session.

Describing Lord Goldsmith's guidance as "provisional", Mr Blair disregarded the warning that attacking Iraq would be illegal without further UN backing.

On January 14 2003, the peer told Mr Blair that UN Resolution 1441 was not enough on its own to justify the use of force against Iraq.

However the former Prime Minister told the Commons it was necessary to be able to say that the UK would still act if an unreasonable veto was put down.

On March 7 the peer presented Mr Blair with formal legal advice that a "reasonable case" could be made for launching an attack without extra UN backing.

Sir John and his team have now also seen documents to which they did not have access a year ago.

Mr Blair is one of a number of key figures to reappear before the Chilcot committee. Other witnesses include; former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, current Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, and former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Bryce.

It is believed that some evidence provided by other witnesses have contradicted that given by the former Prime Minister.

(BMcN)

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