John Chilcot

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The Right Honourable
Sir John Chilcot
Personal details
Born (1939-04-22) 22 April 1939 (age 80)
Nationality British
Education Brighton College
Alma mater Pembroke College, Cambridge
Occupation Civil servant

Sir John Chilcot, GCB (born 22 April 1939) is a Privy Counsellor and former civil servant. His appointment as chair of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath was announced in June 2009.[1]

He was educated at Brighton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read English and languages. A career civil servant until his retirement in 1997, he served as Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Home Office in charge of the Police Department, and a variety of posts in the Home Office, the Civil Service Department and the Cabinet Office, including Private Secretary appointments to Home Secretaries Roy Jenkins, Merlyn Rees, and William Whitelaw, and to the Head of the Civil Service, William Armstrong.[2]

He is now president of the independent policing think tank the Police Foundation, having previously served as its chair.[3]

His honours include CB (1990), KCB (1994), and GCB (1998). He became a Privy Counsellor in 2004, and was a member of the Butler Review of the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He acted as "staff counsellor" to MI5 and MI6 from 1999 to 2004, "dealing with private and personal complaints from members of the intelligence services about their work and conditions."[4]

He is described as "a mandarin with a safe pair of hands", though some doubt his forensic skill. International lawyer Philippe Sands is reported as saying "Having some familiarity with Sir John's questioning ... it is not immediately apparent that he will have the backbone to take on former government ministers."[5] Sands also commented specifically in The Observer, on Chilcot's questioning of Attorney General Peter Goldsmith during the Butler inquiry:

"He [Lord Goldsmith] gave evidence on 5 May 2004. The uncorrected transcript shows some members of the inquiry pressing him [Goldsmith] hard. By contrast, Sir John's spoonfed questions give every impression of being designed to elicit a response from the attorney general that would demonstrate the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.” [6]

Chilcot inquiry

On 15 June 2009, the then British prime minister Gordon Brown announced that Chilcot would chair an inquiry into the Iraq War, despite his participation in the discredited secret Butler report. Opposition parties, campaigners and back bench members of the ruling Labour Party condemned the decision to hold the inquiry in secret and its highly restrictive terms of reference which would not, for example, permit any blame to be apportioned.[7] In 2015, Chilcot was criticised as the Iraq Inquiry remained unpublished after six years.[8] Head of the British civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood said the inquiry had repeatedly turned down offers of extra assistance to help speed up the report. On 29 October 2015, it was announced that the inquiry would be published in June or July 2016.[9] Chilcot is paid £790 a day as head of the inquiry.


  1. Wintour, Patrick (15 June 2009). "David Cameron says he favours a more secret approach to Iraq inquiry". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Biographies of the Review Team - Rt Hon Sir John Chilcot GCB". Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Trustees, patrons and associates". Police Foundation. Retrieved 28 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kirkup, James (24 November 2009). "Iraq inquiry: profile of Sir John Chilcot". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Norton-Taylor, Richard (15 June 2009). "Sir John Chilcot: a safe pair of hands". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Sands, Philippe (21 Jun 2009). "This Iraq inquiry must be transparent". The Observer. London. Retrieved 9 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Anger over 'secret Iraq inquiry'". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Iraq Inquiry published 'in June or July 2016' Sir John Chilcot says". BBC News. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links