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Iraq inquiry blasted as waste of time'

PUBLISHED: 17:12 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 12 August 2010

THE Iraq inquiry will be a waste of money unless it is heard in public, according to a victim of Saddam Hussein s regime. Anti-war campaigner Tahrir Swift, from Orpington, said Gordon Brown must change his mind about holding it privately and that Brit

THE Iraq inquiry will be a "waste of money" unless it is heard in public, according to a victim of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Anti-war campaigner Tahrir Swift, from Orpington, said Gordon Brown must change his mind about holding it privately and that Britain must not "shy away" from fully investigating the six-year conflict.

The Prime Minister came under fire on Monday after announcing that the long-awaited inquiry would be held in private.

He said holding it publicly would threaten national security and warned that it could be as inconclusive as the Saville inquiry which began investigating the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings in 1998 but has yet to report anything.

Mrs Swift said: "An inquiry is a good idea but it will be a waste of money unless Gordon Brown changes his mind. It will be full of the same old excuses. it will be like the Hutton inquiry.

"This could be a remedy to Britain's reputation in the Middle East which was far better before the war. Britain must not shy away from this opportunity. It will be a courageous move but people will respect Britain for it.

"It is not a good idea to hear it in secret. Why can't they have it in public then hold sessions in private when there is sensitive information?

"It won't compel witnesses to give evidence so if Blair is questioned and he doesn't like it he can walk out. What is the point in that?"

Gordon Brown faced criticism from cross party MPs who cited the government's promises of transparency within politics following the MPs' expenses scandal.

Conservative leader David Cameron said: "Shouldn't there be some proper public sessions? Isn't that what many will want and many will expect and part of the building of public confidence that is absolutely necessary?"

Nidal Slam, 50, from Beckenham added: "There are many things that only Iraqis know about. I was in Iraq for most of the occupation until I was forced to come here in 2007 alone without my children.

"I was a chief petroleum engineer in Iraq at the Ministry of Oil but I am still trying to get a job here. The inquiry should be open and common to all. It must not be in secret."

The inquiry is due to start next month and is expected to take at least a year to complete.

It will cover the period from July 2001 to July 2009 and be chaired by civil servant Sir John Chilcot.

Director of Labour Friends of Iraq, Gary Kent, from West Wickham said: "It is important that the inquiry recognises that this story didn't start with the invasion, and examines this suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam. It should take evidence in Iraq.

"British troops are on the way out but we now need a new, deep, long-term strategic relationship between Iraq and Britain based on political, diplomatic and economic issues. By all means, let's examine how we got here but let's also make a greater effort to work with the new Iraq in their interests and ours.

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