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Blair recalled by Iraq inquiry over new evidence

New evidence has shown that Tony Blair was warned that the invasion of Iraq would be unlawful.

Image: ROGER TURESSON / DN / SCANPIX/Scanpix/Press Association Images

THE FORMER PRIME Minister of Britain Tony Blair has been recalled to give further evidence to an inquiry into the Iraq war.

Last January, Blair defended his decision to invade Iraq, saying that Saddam Hussein was a “monster” and that his regime had posed a danger to international security. The chairman of the inquiry Sir John Chilcot indicated after the initial hearing that there may be further hearings if gaps in evidence existed or certain points needed to be clarified, the BBC reports.

Blair is being recalled in light of damaging and conflicting evidence that has come to light since he appeared as a witness, the Guardian reports. Documents presented to the Chilcot panel in June show that the then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, had warned Blair of the consequences of invading Iraq without fresh UN authority – a day before Blair gave assurances to US president George W Bush that the UK would join the invasion.

In a letter to Blair marked ‘secret’ and sent on 20 January 2003, Goldsmith wrote that the last security council decision on Iraq did “not authorise the use of force without a further determination by the security council”.

Several people have been recalled to give evidence, including the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Bryce. Several new witnesses have also been summoned.

Chilcot said:

As we draft our report, it is clear that there are some areas where we need further detail. We will, therefore, be seeking further evidence on those matters. I am committed to taking the majority of this evidence in public.

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In his testimony last year, Blair insisted that invading Iraq was the right thing to do and said that, if he had to make the decision again, he would do the same thing. However, families of those killed in the conflict and anti-war campaigners have condemned Blair’s performance at the inquiry, saying that he evaded the panel’s questions and refused to admit he made mistakes, the Press Association reports.

Blair will appear along with other witnesses between 18 January 2011 and 4 February. A ballot will be held to decide which seats will be allocated to members of the public; a third of the total number will be reserved for families of those who served or were killed in Iraq.

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