Sturgeon Demands Iraq Inquiry Result Now

29 January 2015, 05:00 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

The First Minister has called for the immediate publication of the Iraq war inquiry report ahead of a Holyrood debate on the issue today.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was "time for the truth'' on the events leading up to the 2003 invasion.

It emerged last week that the long-awaited report of the Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the war will not be published until after the general election in May.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The ongoing delay in publishing the inquiry report is completely unjustifiable and should be revisited as a matter of urgency.

"For as long as the report remains hidden from public view, the suspicion will remain that it is being kept secret because of behind-the-scenes wrangling about its contents - a suspicion that is only fuelled by the extended delay until after the looming Westminster election.

"The fact that the report may make deeply uncomfortable reading for some of those involved cannot be allowed to prolong this delay any further.''

She added: "The invasion of Iraq was, I believe, a foreign-policy blunder of epic proportions, the consequences of which we are living with today and will do so for many years to come.

"Those responsible for leading the UK to war will have to answer for their actions, but only the full publication of the report will allow them to do that.

"With every year that passes, the justifications for the war look ever more flimsy - but with every month that passes, the delay in publishing the Chilcot report becomes ever more glaring and the need for full disclosure becomes unanswerable.

"It is - quite simply - time for the truth on the war in Iraq.''

The inquiry was established by then prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and took public evidence from its last witness in 2011.

It became increasingly clear that the report was unlikely to be made public before the election after ministers said in October that it would have to be released before the end of February if it was not to impinge upon the electoral process.

Publication has been held up by wrangling over the release of confidential messages between Tony Blair and former US president George Bush, and by the process by which people who are criticised in the report are given the chance to respond.

Ms Sturgeon's comments follow calls by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg for Sir John Chilcot to set out ''a much clearer and more defined timetable'' with strict deadlines and a firm date for publication.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has joined Scottish Government calls for the inquiry to be published before the election.

Mr Rennie said: "When I voted in the House of Commons in 2009 for the independent inquiry, the Labour government said the final report would be published within a year.

"Nearly six years on, it is extremely frustrating that the findings of the inquiry will not be made public in the coming days and weeks, but potentially months.

"Political parties should work together in efforts to secure the inquiry's publication.''