Scottish Daily Mail

W hat irony! The hu­man snail drives a Porsche

- Peter McKay www.dai­ly­­term­ckay Immigration · Society · Austria · Iraq · Iceland · Belgium · Tony Blair · Gordon Brown · David Cameron · Arbeidersparty · United States of America · One Direction · One Direction · Belarus · George W. Bush · George VI of the United Kingdom · George H. W. Bush · Westminster · London · Refugee Crisis · Porsche Automobil Holding SE · Iain Duncan Smith · Porsche Macan · Jake Berry

WHILE we re­gret those past po­lit­i­cal mis­takes now haunt­ing our present — in the form of ter­ror­ism and a grave refugee cri­sis — for Porsche-driv­ing Sir John Chilcot, 76, they have at least pro­vided a com­fort­able old age.

His long-de­layed re­port into our failed in­va­sion in Iraq, which has taken six years and cost £10mil­lion, is now due to ap­pear next June.

We can’t even be sure of that date. It might be July, or later.

Orig­i­nally, Sir John said it would ap­pear in 2010. So why has it taken so long when the need to know what went wrong now seems so ur­gent?

Be­cause, we are ad­vised, those likely to be crit­i­cised, in­clud­ing Tony Blair, had to be given the op­por­tu­nity of re­but­tal.

That turned out to be bo­gus. There was no such re­quire­ment.

It was also claimed that civil ser­vants de­cided to with­hold vi­tal doc­u­ments. That was non­sense, too.

If doc­u­ments were with­held, the prime min­is­ters who were then in charge — Gor­don Brown and David Cameron — are re­spon­si­ble. The only ques­tion is: why did they think such with­hold­ing was de­sir­able?

The real rea­son for the leisurely pace of the re­port is that nei­ther of the ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties was that keen on it in the first place — and the fact that, what­ever it con­cludes, it has no power to pun­ish the guilty.

What both the Labour and Tory lead­er­ship were keen on in 2003 was in­vad­ing Iraq along with the U.S. Like school­girls in the pres­ence of One Di­rec­tion, both Blair and Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith re­spec­tively longed to be liked by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

Is this the real rea­son why Sir John and his team were given such an open-ended brief and all the time in the world?

It might also be why an in­quiry into how we were mis­led about Iraq’s weapons of mass de­struc­tion is be­ing con­ducted by a re­tired civil ser­vant, not a sit­ting judge.

Hav­ing the Chilcot In­quiry set up in this way meant that gross ac­tions by politi­cians and civil ser­vants — ie, ly­ing in or­der to get us into a war — could not be iden­ti­fied as crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

SIr John has been paid £790 a day — which amounts to more than £200,000 a year for the past six years. This is on top of his pen­sion as a se­nior civil ser­vant, which is likely to be gen­er­ous. His three com­mit­tee mem­bers get £595 a day (a fourth mem­ber died in Fe­bru­ary this year). De­spite fre­quent protests by min­is­ters, in­clud­ing the Prime Min­is­ter, about how much time he is tak­ing, Sir John and Co re­main un­hur­ried.

The Sun on Sun­day, which has been mon­i­tor­ing his com­ings and go­ings, says he spent about three hours a day at his West­min­ster of­fice dur­ing Au­gust.

He worked about 16 hours over the course of one fort­night, av­er­ag­ing a lit­tle over an hour a day. Last week, he was able to leave his Lon­don flat around noon for a four-hour drive (in his Porsche Ma­can 4x4) to his de­tached home in Devon.

Sir John’s team and their ad­vis­ers were es­ti­mated this year to have shared about £1.5 mil­lion in fees.

Jake Berry, the Tory MP for rossendale and Dar­wen — one of many par­lia­men­tar­i­ans who de­plore Sir John’s snail-like pace — says: ‘This sort of work-rate con­firms what we have all sus­pected: that there’s no el­e­ment of ur­gency in this in­quiry. ‘It’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able.’ So why is it ac­cepted? Be­cause there’s noth­ing to be done short of sack­ing Sir John and his team. Which, this late in the day, would merely con­firm what a du­bi­ous, weaselly set-up it was in the first place.

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