Blair must answer “tough questions” on Iraq

Philippe Sands QC has listed the questions Tony Blair must answer if the Chilcot Inquiry is to be a success. He said the inquiry could play "a cathartic role".

Philippe Sands QC, the leading expert on international law, has listed the questions that he believes Tony Blair must answer at the Iraq Inquiry if it is to be considered a success. Inspired by the 38 Degrees campaign calling upon John Chilcot to ask “tough questions” of Tony Blair when he gives evidence, he said the inquiry could play “a cathartic role in getting over a deeply divisive moment” in the UK, and that it was essential that it “get to the truth and assist in rebuilding trust.”

In an event hosted by the Foreign Press Assocation, and chaired by Channel 4 broadcaster Jon Snow, Professor Sands outlined several key questions which he believed the panel must ask Blair, including his reasons for going to war and his own examination of the intelligence available to him at the time he was making the decision:

“I would ask why he waited so long to get legal advice … and what thought, if any, was giving to the post-invasion consequences.”

Asked about the chances of the panel reaching a robust conclusion, Sands expressed reservations about their relative inexperience of legal processes, as well as their lack of reference to documentation in their questions so far. “The British public is entitled to see this documentation”, he said.

Compared to the Dutch panel that published their findings yesterday, the British panel has very limited legal experience and has so far been far less forensic in their questioning. Another concern was the short time the panel has with Blair: “They need more than a day to do it properly.”

Professor Sands also criticised former Blair adviser Alastair Campbell’s performance at the inquiry yesterday, describing how he, “stumbled on a number of issues” and “took his argument too far.”

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