John Chilcot

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Person.png John Chilcot  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Civil servant)
Alma materPembroke College (Cambridge)
Chair of the Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq War.

Sir John Chilcot (born 22 April 1939) is a Privy Counsellor and former senior civil servant. His appointment as Chair of the Iraq Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath was announced in June 2009.[1]

On 6 July 2016, Sir John Chilcot read out a 12-page public statement at the QEII Conference Centre in London,[2] after which the 2.6 million-word Chilcot Report, in 12 Volumes with 5 Annexes, was published on the Iraq Inquiry website.[3]

Safe pair of hands

Chilcot was a member of the Butler Review of the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He acted as "staff counsellor" to MI5 and MI6 from 1999 to 2004, "dealing with private and personal complaints from members of the intelligence services about their work and conditions."[4]

He is described as "a mandarin with a safe pair of hands", though some doubt his forensic skill. International lawyer Philippe Sands is reported as saying "Having some familiarity with Sir John's questioning ... it is not immediately apparent that he will have the backbone to take on former government ministers."[5] Sands also commented specifically in The Observer, on Chilcot's questioning of Attorney-General Peter Goldsmith during the Butler inquiry:

"He [Lord Goldsmith] gave evidence on 5 May 2004. The uncorrected transcript shows some members of the inquiry pressing him [Goldsmith] hard. By contrast, Sir John's spoon-fed questions give every impression of being designed to elicit a response from the Attorney-General that would demonstrate the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.” <ref</ref>

Chilcot Inquiry

Full article: Iraq Inquiry

The Chilcot Inquiry, announced on 15 June 2009 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was not to apportion blame, but to "get to the heart of what happened". Chilcot's 2.6 million word report was published on 6 July 2016.[6]


Event Participated in

Iraq Inquiry24 November 20096 July 2016London
"The point of the delay is to give the impression Chilcot has been absolutely painstaking and therefore the bucket of whitewash he will throw cannot be hiding anything. Do not be fooled." (Craig Murray)


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Cabinet Office Briefing Paper 21 July 2002briefing paper12 June 2005Generated for participants for the secret meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, this classified paper states that since regime change was illegal it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal. The last page is missing.