The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997


Sir John Major’s Statement on the Inquiry into the Iraq War – 18 June 2009

The text of Sir John Major’s statement on the Inquiry into the Iraq War, issued on Thursday 18th June 2009.



The Government’s decision to hold the Inquiry into the Iraq War in private is inexplicable – not least in its own interests. Any material which puts our national security at risk must, of course, be withheld but if, as the Government proclaims, its position will be wholly vindicated, then it should welcome maximum publicity on all other disclosures. It should also engender confidence in its findings by taking evidence under oath. Only then can witnesses be bound to offer full and frank responses.

The arrangements currently proposed run the risk of being viewed sceptically by some, and denounced as a whitewash by others. I am astonished the Government cannot understand this.

There are other, wider reasons for a Public Inquiry:

– To settle – once and for all – the continuing debate upon whether the war was legal, or not.

– To explain how, and why, we went to war on a false premise, with the public apparently being misled on the cause of the war, and the missile capability of Saddam’s Iraq.

– Last – but by no means least – the Government needs to provide some kind of closure for the families and friends of those who have perished, or been maimed, in pursuit of this policy.

If the Government is seen to obfuscate on this issue, lingering doubts will always remain. It is imperative that, when next any British Government commits our armed forces to war, that Government’s word is trusted beyond doubt. For this reason, and for the sake of all those who have either risked, or given, their lives in Iraq, nothing but an Inquiry with full disclosure – under oath – will do.

18th June, 2009