The U.K. government has been under pressure for some years to hold an inquiry into British participation in the Iraq war and on the events that led up to the decision to go to war. The various previous inquiries were seen by many as inadequate or whitewash. The government eventually conceded that once British forces had been withdrawn from Iraq, a wide ranging inquiry would be held.

In due course the government appointed a five-man panel. It was not to be a judicial review, nor was it to apportion blame; it was to clarify the facts. To head this inquiry the government appointed Sir John Chilcot, a retired senior civil servant. The other members of the inquiry team are a senior retired diplomat, two historians and a peeress who sits in the House of Lords as an independent.

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