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Tony Blair's Iraq notes to George Bush be kept secret

By Michael Savage

Private memos sent between Tony Blair and George Bush in the months leading up to the Iraq invasion are to be kept secret after the head of the Civil Service consulted the former Prime Minister and refused to allow their publication.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell vetoed attempts by the Iraq Inquiry to publish “key extracts” from the telegrams, which are regarded as highly significant by the inquiry team. Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot described Sir Gus's decision as a serious blow to transparency.

One memo sent by Mr Blair in 2002 is said to have reassured the US President that Britain would be “absolutely with you” should he take military action against Saddam Hussein.

The decision may severely hamper the inquiry team's ability to question Mr Blair about when he decided Britain would join the US-led invasion.

Senior Whitehall sources confirmed last night that while the committee members would be allowed to refer to the memos, they would not be able to discuss them in detail.

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