John Chilcot

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Sir John Chilcot

Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
MonarchElizabeth II
Personal details
Born (1939-04-22) 22 April 1939 (age 81)
Surrey, England
EducationBrighton College
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
OccupationCivil servant

Sir John Anthony Chilcot, GCB PC (/ˈɪlkɒt/; born 22 April 1939) is a British retired civil servant.

In 2009, he was appointment chairman of the Iraq Inquiry (also referred to as the "Chilcot Inquiry"), an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Iraq War (2003).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

John Anthony Chilcot was born on 22 April 1939, and educated at Brighton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read English and languages.[2][3][4]


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.[5]

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".[6]

He became a Privy Counsellor in 2004.[3]

The Butler Review (2004)[edit]

Chilcot was a member of the Butler Review of the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.[3]

Chilcot Inquiry (2009–2016)[edit]

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 governing 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In 2015, Chilcot was criticised as the Iraq Inquiry remained unpublished after six years.[8] The head of Her Majesty's Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood said the inquiry had repeatedly turned down offers of extra assistance to help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]

The report was published on 6 July 2016, more than seven years after the inquiry was announced.[10] The report stated that at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests, that intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was presented with too much certainty, that peaceful options to war had not been exhausted, that the United Kingdom and United States had undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council, that the process of identifying the legal basis was "far from satisfactory", and that a war was unnecessary.[11][12]

Later work[edit]

He was president of Britain's independent policing think tank, The Police Foundation.[13][14]


Chilcot was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 1990 Birthday Honours[15] before being promoted to Knight Commander (KCB) in the 1994 New Year Honours[16] and later Knight Grand Cross (GCB).[17]


  1. ^ Wintour, Patrick (15 June 2009). "David Cameron says he favours a more secret approach to Iraq inquiry". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  2. ^ Oppenheim, Maya (6 July 2016). "7 years, £10m and 100 witnesses: The man behind the Chilcot report". The Independent. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Rt Hon Sir John Chilcot GCB (H/S. 1952–57), OB of the Month, July 2011". Old Brightonians – The Alumni of Brighton College. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  4. ^ Bosberry-Scott, Wendy (2010). Which London School? and the South-East 2010/2011. John Catt Educational Ltd. p. 95. ISBN 9781904724780.
  5. ^ "Biographies of the Review Team – Rt Hon Sir John Chilcot GCB". Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction. Archived from the original on 21 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  6. ^ Kirkup, James (24 November 2009). "Iraq inquiry: profile of Sir John Chilcot". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Anger over 'secret Iraq inquiry'". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  8. ^ Iraq inquiry: Soldiers' families threaten to sue Chilcot
  9. ^ "Iraq Inquiry published 'in June or July 2016' Sir John Chilcot says". BBC News. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  10. ^ "Iraq Inquiry: Chilcot report to be published on 6 July". BBC News. 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  11. ^ Luke Harding (6 July 2016). "Chilcot delivers crushing verdict on Blair and the Iraq war". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  12. ^ Leon Watson (6 July 2016). "Chilcot report: 2003 Iraq war was 'unnecessary', invasion was not 'last resort' and Saddam Hussein was 'no imminent threat'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Trustees, patrons and associates". Police Foundation. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  14. ^ Wawrzak, Kaja. "MEC Friday Seminar – The Iraq War Inquiry: a study in contemporary political, diplomatic, military and reconstruction history". University of Oxford. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  15. ^ "No. 52173". The London Gazette. 15 June 1990. p. 3.
  16. ^ "No. 53527". The London Gazette. 31 December 1993. p. 3.
  17. ^ Order of Service And Ceremony of The Installation of: Knights Grand Cross of The Most Honourable Order of The Bath. In the Order's 289th Anniversary Year. 9 May 2014. p. 8.

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