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Miliband pledges inquiry into Iraq war

By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent

Published: March 26 2009 00:33 | Last updated: March 26 2009 00:33

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An inquiry into the Iraq war will be established as “soon as practically possible” after UK troops have left the country in July, David Miliband, foreign secretary, said on Wednesday.

Mr Miliband told the Commons that the inquiry would be “comprehensive” but declined to elaborate on exactly when it would begin or what form it would take.

He did hint, however, that the Franks Inquiry into the Falklands war could be a model, suggesting a public inquiry would be unlikely. “The fact that it was conducted in private meant that it had access to all the relevant papers,” Mr Miliband said.

Gordon Brown has long resisted launching an inquiry while troops are in Iraq, arguing that the process would sap the morale of those fighting on the frontline.

Public hearings into the decision to invade Iraq – endorsed by Mr Brown and other serving cabinet ministers – could rekindle some politically difficult issues regarding the use of intelligence.

But, as many of the intelligence issues have been examined in past investigations and reports, the lack of preparations made for the aftermath of the invasion could emerge as a key theme of the inquiry.

The Conservatives, who have been pressing for an inquiry, welcomed the confirmation but said it “should have been done long ago”.

William Hague, shadow foreign secretary, raised concerns that the inquiry would not begin until late this year. “It is alarming that by setting a date of 31st July, when parliament will have adjourned for the summer, the government are now dragging out at the setting up of an inquiry until the autumn.” he said.

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