Salmond: Chilcot Report 'Just The Start'

The publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war will be "just the start'' of a process to hold those responsible for the conflict to account, former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has said.

Alex Salmond

The ex-SNP leader, who has been a persistent and vocal critic of the war, said there is still cross-party determination for former prime minister Tony Blair and others to be "held to account''.

Mr Salmond, the SNP's foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster, was speaking as the long-awaited inquiry report by Sir John Chilcot is finally published.

The former Whitehall mandarin has said from the outset that he will not rule on whether the invasion in 2003 was legal in terms of international law, pledging instead to provide a ''full and insightful'' account of the decision-making process.

Mr Salmond said he expects the document to be a "damning report into the disastrous war in Iraq''.

He added: "Thirteen years since the war began, and seven since Sir John Chilcot launched his inquiry, the families of the 179 service personnel who died will finally get some of the evidence and findings as to why we were taken into this war on false pretences and why the UK government so badly failed to plan for the war or its aftermath.

"Having waited so many years for answers it would be a disgrace if this report were to be another establishment whitewash in the long litany of British cover ups from Suez onwards.''

He added: "For those expecting answers today we must be clear - this report will not provide a verdict, and far from being the final word on the Iraq war it will just be the start of a process - providing some of the evidence and findings from which we can then determine those responsible.

"I want to reassure the families of those who died, and everyone living with the consequences of this conflict, that there is renewed cross-party determination to ensure Mr Blair and all those responsible for the lies and failures are held to account.

"Whatever the findings in the Chilcot report we already know the consequences of the Iraq war - the innocent men and women killed, a country that lay in ruins and under siege, a region destabilised and a world made more dangerous for us all.

"Once we have the evidence we must hold those responsible to account.''

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