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  • Iraq ‘cover up’

    Posted on January 19th, 2011 admin No comments

    Sir Gus: Hands up everybody who thinks I deserve a knighthood.

    Is it me? Why as I get older do things annoy me more, to the point where I can start shouting at the television.

    The latest object of my middle-aged rage is Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell. You’ve probably heard this story already but the details need repeating.

    Sir John Chilcot is the person who was put in charge of the Iraq inquiry, which is investigating Britain’s role in the run-up to and the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

    As part of his remit to scrutinise the decisions that were made by the politicians at the time Sir John and the other members of his panel have had access to a blizzard of document and information.

    Amongst them are notes of discussions and private memos relating to meetings between Tony Blair and George Bush – which you might have thought were probably quite important.

    So much so that Sir John asked that he be allowed to make sections of them public – particularly as he would be questioning Tony Blair again about the issue on Friday.

    Enter Sir Gus (why are they all Sirs I wonder?) who effectively put a veto on the matter and said the contents must remain secret.

    So we have a Government inquiry where the Government have effectively muzzled the people they put in charge – something they said they wouldn’t do.

    This is what Sir John said about the notes: “The inquiry recognises the privileged nature of those exchanges but, exceptionally, we sought disclosure of key extracts which illuminate Prime Minister Blair’s position at critical points.

    “The inquiry is disappointed that the cabinet secretary was not willing to accede to this request.

    “This means that in a narrow but important area the inquiry may not be able to publish as fully as it would wish the evidential basis for some of its comments and conclusions.”

    It has been disclosed that Sir Gus contacted Mr Blair to seek permission to disclose the contents of the documents.

    Reg Keys, whose son Tom was killed in Iraq, said: “If there is nothing controversial in them, why are they shamelessly covered up?”

    What really bugs me is that it seems like a return to the bad old days before Freedom of Information when if somebody said you couldn’t have something you just had to lump it.

    What if we don’t agree with Sir Gus? What if we think the extracts in the memos should be made public? Why should we protect the former Prime Minister and George Bush, who have both made a mint selling their stories of their time in charge?

    It leaves me with only one thing for me to do, ask for the letters using Freedom of Information rules [here]

     and then if they refuse at least I can complain.

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