Tony Blair insists Chilcot inquiry delays
Tony Blair insists Chilcot inquiry delays 'not my fault'Reuters

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a strongly worded statement insisting he was not blame for the delay in publishing an Iraq War inquiry.

Blair took aim at "politically motivated speculation", after it emerged the much-delayed report would not see the light of day until after May's general election.

Sir John Chilcot, the author of the report, said there was "no realistic prospect" of publication before then, prompting Blair to swiftly launch his latest defence.

It has been previously reported the hold-up in publication was caused by Blair dragging his feet over the inclusion of private talks between ex-US president George W Bush, in the lead up to the 2003 invasion that toppled dictated Saddam Hussein.

In statement issued "for the sake of clarity", Blair said: "We have repeatedly said that it is not true to say that Tony Blair has caused the delay in the report's publication.

"Sir John's letter makes reference to notes and records concerning Mr Blair, which some may interpret as an implicit suggestion that Mr Blair caused the delay, this is not true. On the contrary, he regrets this delay in its publication.

"Incorrect allegations and politically motivated speculation do nothing to shine a light on the issues involved. It is an independent inquiry and it should be allowed to proceed with its work."

Failure to publish the Chilcot report has been met with anger, following an inquiry that lasted six years and cost millions of pounds investigating the reasons Britain joined an American-led coalition to invade Iraq.