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Chilcot report to be published on July 6 and without redactions

Published 09/05/2016

Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry report will be published on July 6
Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry report will be published on July 6

The long-awaited report into the Iraq war will be published on Wednesday, July 6, an inquiry spokesman has said.

Security checks on the 2.6 million word report have been completed without the need for any redactions.

The date of publication was agreed by the Inquiry's head, Sir John Chilcot and David Cameron.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Sir John said: " National security checking of the Inquiry's report has now been completed, without the need for any redactions to appear in the text. I am grateful for the speed with which it was accomplished."

He added: " This will allow suitable time for the Inquiry to prepare the 2.6 million word report for publication, including final proof reading, formatting, printing and the steps required for electronic publication."

Mr Cameron told the Inquiry head last November that he was " disappointed'' about the length of time it was taking to release the findings and urged him to ''expedite'' the final stages. Its publication will come 1,981 days after the inquiry ended.

Conservative former frontbencher David Davis last month claimed that lives had "probably'' been lost as a result of the delays because Britain had made recent interventions in Libya, Syria and Iraq without proper knowledge of the controversial 2003 choice to go to war.

Publication was delayed by a process known as Maxwellisation, under which those who may face criticism are given the opportunity to respond before publication.

Tony Blair denied last year that he was responsible for the hold-ups.

Critics have long suspected the former prime minister of wanting to spin out the investigation in which he is expected to be criticised and he has faced accusations that he sought to block publication of his communications with US President George Bush.

In May 2014, Sir John disclosed that he had finally reached agreement with the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood on the disclosure of Mr Blair's discussions with Mr Bush, three years after Sir Jeremy's predecessor, Sir Gus (now Lord) O'Donnell, ruled that they could not be released in their entirety.

The lengthy dispute - which Sir John acknowledged had raised ''difficult issues of long-standing principle'' - meant the inquiry was unable to begin the Maxwellisation process.

More than 150 witnesses gave evidence to the Inquiry and more than 130 sessions of oral evidence were held.

It has analysed more than 150,000 government documents as well as other material related to the invasion.

The Inquiry was set up in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to examine the lead up to the invasion from summer 2001 to the withdrawal of the main body of British troops earlier that year.

Mr Blair gave evidence the following year and told its panel that he did not go to war on the basis of a ''lie''. The former PM said he had no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein and would do the same again.

Last summer, f amilies of soldiers killed in the Iraq War threatened legal action over the delays.

Arrangements are being put in place so that the families of those who died in the conflict can have early access to the report on the day it is published.

Rose Gentle, whose Royal Highland Fusilier son Gordon, 19, was killed in a bomb attack in Basra in 2004, said she was "glad" the date had now been announced.

She said: "We are glad we have finally got the date. We just hope that everything we want to be in it is actually in it."

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