By Michael Smith writing in the Times online
TONY BLAIR is set to face an unprecedented parliamentary inquiry into his conduct in the run-up to the Iraq war. A coalition of Tory and Labour MPs is to table a motion to set up a Commons committee to examine ‘the conduct of ministers’ both before and after the war. They believe they need the support of about 30 Labour rebels to succeed.
The committee, comprising seven privy counsellors, would have the power to see all sensitive documents and call any British witnesses, including intelligence chiefs.
The failure to plan for the aftermath is likely to be at the heart of the committee’s inquiries now that Iraq is in the grip of a violent insurgency, says the Tory MP Douglas Hogg, one of the inquiry’s architects and who is canvassing support for the move. The coalition already has backing from the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, said his party had not supported earlier attempts to impeach the prime minister but was in no doubt that parliament should hold its own inquiry.
‘Information that has emerged, in particular the memos leaked to The Sunday Times, strengthen overwhelmingly the case for an inquiry into the judgments of ministers, and in particular the prime minister, in the run-up to war and thereafter,’ he said.
The prime minister is the main target of the inquiry but in addition it will examine the conduct of Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, Geoff Hoon, then the defence secretary, and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general.
The inquiry is also expected to look at the secret air war against Iraq that began in May 2002, just weeks after Blair had agreed that Britain would take military action with America to achieve regime change.