The UK joined Iraq War without knowing if "WMDs" existed

FORMER UK Prime Minister Tony Blair convinced himself with unjustified certainty that Iraq's President, Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction, when intelligence reports had not established "beyond doubt" that they existed, the long awaited Chilcot report has damningly concluded.

The UK Prime Minister was so convinced that of the presence of the non-existent WMDs that he sent British troops into Iraq when diplomacy might still have resolved the crisis. But the secret intelligence reports he had been shown "did not justify" his certainty, Sir John Chilcot concluded.

Mr Blair's taking of the UK to the Iraq War helped galvanise Australia's own involvement.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the National Press Club in 2013:

Clearly, the presence of the British (in Iraq) is seen by many Australians as an important supplement to the presence of the Americans.

I want to say that the leadership that's been displayed by Tony Blair on this issue in his own party has been extraordinary and I salute him for that.

He's a very strong Labor leader and I think he deserves a great deal of respect for the very strong attitude that he's taken. 



Sir John Chilcot's damning report into the Iraq War also revealed that Blair and US President George W. Bush were made fully aware that Iraq could descend into sectarian chaos after the invasion - directly contrary to what Mr Blair told the inquiry.

The issue of whether the then Prime Minister lied to Parliament to justify the UK's involvement in the Iraq war has been a source of damaging controversy for more than 13 years.

Sir John Chilcot did not use the word "lie" - in fact his report specified that it "is not questioning" Mr Blair fixed belief - but his damning conclusion is that the former Prime Minister deliberately blurred the distinction between what he believed and what he actually knew.

However, Mr Blair claimed that the 12 volume report proved that, at worst, he had made an honest mistake. He said, in a statement: "The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country."

Sir John also said the risks of internal strife, regional instability and the burgeoning of al-Qaeda in Iraq "were each explicitly identified", yet planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam were "wholly inadequate". 

And he criticised intelligence chiefs for allowing the Prime Minister to get away with misrepresenting what they had told him when he presented his now notorious dossier to the House of Commons in September 2002.