What can we expect from the Chilcot report on the Iraq war?

After seven years, the Iraq Inquiry's report on British involvement in the conflict is set to be published

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John Chilcot, the chairman of the Iraq Inquiry. Image: Matt Dunham / AP/Press Association Images

After years of hearings and delays, the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq war is due to be published today.

The 2.6 million-word report will be published this morning - almost seven years after the inquiry, led by John Chilcot, began its hearings.

The inquiry is estimated to have cost the British taxpayer around £10 million (almost €12m).

In the lead-up to the publication, there have been calls for George Bush and Tony Blair to be imprisoned for their part in the conflict and the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein's regime. 

Speaking to Pat Kenny, Robin Butler - who chaired the Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction - said he is not surprised the report has taken so long.

"It was everything that happened militarily and politically between 2002 and 2009. The number of documents was huge, and then on top of that there had to be negotiations with the United States about what could be disclosed about what President GW Bush said to Tony Blair.

"Then there was giving a chance to the people who were criticised to make their representations. And finally there was clearing what the British government would allow to be published," he argued.

Michael White, Assistant Editor of The Guardian, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about what we can expect from the final document.

"There's bound to be surprises - it's two or three times longer than the Bible," he told Kieran Cuddihy, although pointed out that people have heard a lot of the evidence before.

"But on the delicate points... how far will Sir John Chilcot [...] go in blaming Tony Blair? Will he accuse him of being a liar? Will he accuse him of being a war criminal? How much will he blame the civil servants or military who went along with all these things?"

"Some people really do think it's the greatest crime in history"

Mr White explained that this is the fifth report into the controversial conflict, and none have accused Tony Blair of deliberately lying.

"He took the material, and like a good journalist... I think the word was he 'sexed it up' a bit," he explained. "So I have a feeling this one, from what I've read, won't be a great bit different. They'll say they got an awful lot of things wrong, but Blair believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction [...] And more to the point, most intelligence agencies around the world did."

Robin Butler explained that he doesn't expect anything more to come out about the intelligence received over the alleged WMDs.

"What I expect to come out is more of what was in the political exchanges between President Bush and Tony Blair."

Image: J. Scott Applewhite / AP/Press Association Images

Mr Blair has previously apologised for "mistakes" in the planning of the Iraq war. On Sunday, the former British minister declined to comment further, saying "it's best we wait for Wednesday and let's just see what the report brings ... then I can respond properly".

Some critics of Mr Blair have suggested that he should be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the issue. However, Michael White says that is not going to happen.

"The ICC was set up under the Rome Statute, and its remit at that time didn't include invading other people's countries," he argued. "I know some people are gagging for it, but they're not going to get that one."

Michael concluded by observing that tomorrow's report is unlikely to offer a satisfying resolution for many people.

"Some people really do think it's the greatest crime in history, and they really do think the Shia and the Sunni haven't been taking great bites out of each other for 1,500 years [...] These guys think Tony Blair and George Bush invented that nasty civil war.

"[People] are right to be upset - what happened in Iraq is terrible. But I don't think you can park it all at Bush and Blair's door," he added.