Blair to depose at Britain’s Iraq war inquiry next week


London: Former British prime minister Tony Blair will give evidence to Britain’s Iraq inquiry on January 29 in a full-day session expected to be attended by relatives of war victims and anti-war groups, it was announced Monday.

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Blair, 56, the most high-profile public figure to appear before the inquiry so far, was in charge of the British government in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.

He will face six hours of questioning by the inquiry team, which is led by former civil servant John Chilcot. This week, the inquiry will hear from former ministers who served under Blair at the time.

Former Blair aide Alastair Campbell told the inquiry last week that Blair pledged the US support for an invasion as early as 2002 in “private notes” he sent to then US President George W Bush.

The question of the legality of the war under international law and the lack of planning for the aftermath of the invasion is also likely to play a key role in the Blair session – as will the now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein owned weapons of mass destruction.

Relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq have vowed to “confront” Blair during the hearing at London’s Queen Elizabeth II conference centre.

A third of the places in the 60-seat inquiry chamber has been reserved for bereaved families and anti-war groups have also vowed to turn up.