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Clegg: Chilcot report in danger of being 'sexed down'

The public will assume the Chilcot report is being "sexed down" after its publication was delayed until after the general election, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.

Nick Clegg has criticised the latest delay in publishing the Chilcot inquiry. Credit: PA Wire

In a letter to inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot, the Liberal Democrat leader said it was "incomprehensible" that the report may not be published for further months.

He urged Sir John to set out "a much clearer and more defined timetable" for the report's publication.

"If the findings are not published with a sense of immediacy, there is a real danger the public will assume the report is being 'sexed down' by individuals rebutting criticisms put to them by the Inquiry, whether that is the case or not," Mr Clegg said.

Background to Sir John Chilcot's Iraq report

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was among 100 witnesses called by the Chilcot inquiry. Credit: P6025J/EMPICS Entertainment
  • Commissioned in 2009 by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown
  • Headed by Privy Counsellor and former civil servant Sir John Chilcot
  • Inquiry looked into reasons why Britain went to war in 2003
  • Inquiry heard from over 100 witnesses including former PM Tony Blair
  • Chilcot inquiry heard from its last witness in 2011
  • Inquiry is said to have cost at least £10 million pounds
  • Initial delays centered on whether conversations between Tony Blair and George W Bush in lead up to war could be published
  • David Cameron wanted the report published at the end of 2014
  • Report will not be published until after the General Election in May
  • Sir John will outline reasons for the delay in exchange of letters with PM

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Norman Baker says delays to Chilcot report 'shocking'

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker has criticised delays to the Chilcot report. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker has told ITV News delays to the Chilcot report into the Iraq war are "shocking".

He said: "This delay is a disgrace, it's shocking. It's been 12 years since this war started and six since the inquiry. The British Public are entitled to see this report and it should be published before the election."

David Davis: Chilcot report delay 'incomprehensible'

Tory backbencher David Davis was set to question in the Commons why the Chilcot report was taking so long. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA

Senior Conservative backbencher David Davis, who was the driving force behind the staging of a Commons debate due on January 29th to discuss the delayed Chilcot report, has said that it is "incomprehensible" that it would have to wait until the next parliament.

The report, which was set up by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009, heard from its last witness in 2011. MPs have been calling for the report to be published for months.

Mr Davis told the Guardian: "Frankly this is not good enough. It is more than five years since it started

"We need to know why. This is not simply some formality. This is for the whole country to understand why we made a terrible mistake in Iraq. Simply putting it off is not good enough."

He added: "Why has this taken so long? What is going on that is preventing this? The report was created in the first place by a Labour government in order to get an understanding of what went wrong. I can think of no reason why this should be deferred."

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18 killed in series of Iraq market bomb attacks

Eighteen people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks in busy markets in and around Baghdad, Iraqi officials said.

Police said the deadliest attack was when a motorcycle bomb exploded near a line of mobile phone shops in the capital's Shiite district of Sadr City, killing nine and injuring 25 others.

Earlier in the day, a bomb blast in a vegetable wholesale market in a village near the town of Iskandariyah killed four and wounded 14.

Elsewhere, police said a bomb exploded at another market, killing five and injuring 14, in the Shiite village of Sabaa al-Bour, about 20 miles (30km) north of the capital.

Fresh wave of airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria and Iraq

The United States and its allies conducted 29 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq in a 24-hour period, the Combined Joint Task Force has said.

Sixteen strikes around seven Iraqi cities destroyed vehicles, buildings, equipment and fighting positions, as well as hitting units belonging to the militant group, the task force said.

In Syria, 11 airstrikes were carried out near the city of Kobani, destroying a tank and fighting positions, while others focused on targets near Abu Kamal and Dawr az Zawr.

The strikes took place between Friday and Saturday mornings, the task force statement said.

France to send aircraft carrier for strikes against IS

France is to send an aircraft carrier to the Middle East for an operation against Islamic State militants in Iraq, the country's President has announced.

Francois Hollande told military personnel aboard the Charles De Gaulle vessel in a speech today, given as the carrier cruised off France's southern coast in the Mediterranean.

Hollande said the current situation justified a French military presence in the Middle East, adding: "The aircraft carrier will work in close cooperation with coalition forces."

Iraq 'may need three years to rebuild military'

Credit: Reuters

Iraq may need three years to rebuild and restructure its military, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said.

The country battles Islamic State militants who pose the biggest threat to its security since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The ultra-hardline militant group seeking to redraw the map of the Middle East swept through the north last June virtually unopposed by the army, raising alarm bells among Baghdad's Western allies and in Arab capitals.

Corruption is widely blamed for the near collapse of the army, which received billions of dollars in support from the United States during the American occupation but has failed to stabilise Iraq.

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