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Miliband announces inquiry into Iraq war

Category: Politics

Published: 25th Mar 2009 18:10:00

An inquiry into the Iraq war has finally been announced following years of pressure from opposition parties and anti-war groups.

The announcement came in an answer from foreign secretary David Miliband during a session in the Commons today.

Mr Miliband confirmed the inquiry would begin "as soon as practically possible" after July 31st, when the last British troops left in the country start to leave.

The government had previously claimed an inquiry into the controversial war was only suitable once British soldiers were on their way back to the UK.

As Gordon Brown said when he returned from visiting troops last December: "I have always said that this is a matter that we will consider once our troops have come home. We are not in that position at present, so it is not right to open the question now."

The government is not yet discussing the nature of the inquiry, or who will conduct it.

The Conservatives are calling for it to be carried out by a privy council – essentially ‘the great and the good’ – but the government is refusing to be drawn into the discussion, or the inquiry’s terms of reference.

Mr Miliband did, however, confirm it would be "comprehensive".

The announcement did little to paper over the cracks between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives though.

"The Labour government and Conservative party must not be allowed to stitch up the British public with the kind of narrow and secretive inquiry which would suit them both," said Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey.

"While the Liberal Democrats opposed this illegal and immoral war, the Tories failed in their duty as an opposition party by voting for it."

Just before the confirmation, shadow foreign secretary William Hague told Mr Miliband the Tories would make an inquiry one of their first acts if they came to power.

"We will learn the necessary lessons and what went wrong in the functioning of government itself," Mr Hague said.

The Foreign Office’s decision comes just days after the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition.

Families of those who had died in the war, including Ms Gentle and Reg Keys, handed in a petition to Downing Street today calling for a public inquiry.

UK troop numbers will be reduced from 4,100 to 400 by the end of July.

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