The Iraq Inquiry launched today with the aim of providing a set of “lessons to be learned” from the handling of the Iraq war. There are five members on the panel of the inquiry who are judged to be impartial, non-partisan and sufficiently experienced to take evidence and weigh the balance of information.
Journalists at the opening press conference questioned the ability of the panellists to wrench free of the influence of government in their findings. Food for thought, perhaps, is that the panellists were all educated Eton, Oxford or Cambridge. Baroness Prashar is the only exception with an educational record which includes Wakefield Girls’ School and time at Leeds and Glasgow Universities.
All members of the inquiry have worked closely with the British establishment at some point, either through contact with the civil service, judiciary, society figures such as Randolph Churchill or through chairing the activities of big business.
The members of the inquiry team are;
Chairman: Sir John Chilcot
Rt Hon Sir John Chilcot GCB
Currently chairman, since 1999, of the B&CE (building and civil engineering) Group, with c. £1bn of assets, providing on a not-for-profit basis pensions, insurance, holiday pay and other benefits to the construction industry. B&CE is the largest supplier in the UK of stakeholder pensions to medium and low-earning workers. Chairman of the individual group companies, and of the linked Charitable Trust.
Staff Counsellor to the National Criminal Intelligence Service since 2002.
Chairman since 2001, of the Police Federation, the leading research foundation on policing in the UK.
Member, the National Archives Council (formerly the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on the Public Records) since 1999.
Trustee, the Police Rehabilitation Trust since 2002.
Director, Abraxa Ltd and NBW Ltd.
Other former appointments include: Member, Independent Commission on the Voting System, 1997-8; Chairman, First Division Pensioners Group, 1998-2002; Staff Counsellor for the Security and Intelligence Agencies, 1999-2004; seconded Director, Schroders, 1986-7; Director RTZ Pillar, 1986-90. Conducted reviews of Royal and VIP security, 1999, and the Castlereagh Special Branch break-in 2002-3.
Before retiring from the Civil Service at the end of 1997, as Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office since 1990, he was Deputy Under-Secretary at the Home Office in charge of the Police Department, and served in a variety of posts in the Home Office, the Civil Service Department and the Cabinet Office, including Private Secretary appointments to the Home Secretary (Roy Jenkins, Merlyn Rees and Willie Whitelaw) and to the Head of the Civil Service (William Armstrong). CB, 1990; KCB, 1994; GCB, 1998. Privy Counsellor, 2004.
Born on 22 April 1939, he was educated at Brighton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge (Open Scholar; MA, English and Languages; Hon. Fellow 1999).
Married since 1964 to Rosalind Mary (née Forster), an artist. Interests include reading, music and opera, walking and travel.
Former diplomat Sir Roderick Lyne
Sir Roderick Lyne attended Eton school before studying history at Leeds with a focus on modern history. He joined the debating team and still recalls a particular drubbing the university team received from the long-term inmates at Wakefield prison.
From 1970 to 2004 Roderic Lyne was a member of the British Diplomatic Service. He was British Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2000 to 2004; UK Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation, the UN and other international organisations in Geneva from 1997 to 2000; and Private Secretary to the Prime Minister for foreign affairs, defence and Northern Ireland from 1993 to 1996. From 1990 to 1993 he was head of the Soviet and then Eastern Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and from 1987 to 1990 Head of Chancery at the British Embassy in Moscow. In his earlier career he served in the Soviet Union, Senegal and at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, as well as in the Soviet and Rhodesian departments of the Foreign Office and as Assistant Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington.
From 1986 to 1987 he was a Visiting Research Fellow at Chatham House.
Roderic Lyne is currently a Senior Adviser to JPMorgan Chase Bank, and a non-executive director of Peter Hambro Mining. He is a member of the Board of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce; the Board of Governors of Kingston University; and is a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation.
From 2005-7 he was a member of the Task Force of the Trilateral Commission on Russia and a co-author, with Strobe Talbott and Koji Watanabe, of the report to the Commission ‘Engaging with Russia: The Next Phase’ (published in English and Japanese in 2006 and in Russian in 2007).
Sir Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin Gilbert is Winston Churchill’s official biographer, and one of Britain’s leading historians. Martin Gilbert is the author of eighty books in total. He is an Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and a Distinguished Fellow of Hillsdale College, Michigan.
Born in October 1936 in London, he was evacuated to Canada during the war and returned in time to celebrate the end of the war in the UK. From 1945 to 1955 he boraded at Highgate School in London. After two weeks holiday in London he undertook compulsory National Service. He left the army in the spring of 1957 and travelled to the Balkans and Turkey, where he taught English. Later that year Gilbert studied history at Magdalen College, Oxford University.
He says of history and the search for truth:
I believe that there is such a thing as “true history”. What happened in the past is unalterable and definite…
…In my own published work, I have avoided the word “perhaps”. It is for the historian either to say what happened, or to say that he cannot discover it. To say, “Perhaps it was like this” is to mask a failure to get to the bottom of a problem: and failure in historical research is no crime. It is one of the hazards of the profession…
…In every instance where I use such eye-witness testimony, I make it clear that it is the voice of an eye-witness, and that it is a recollection. Such voices bring atmosphere, perspective, point of view – and even facts (which the historian must check, but which are often facts not otherwise easy to come by)…
Sir Lawrence Freedman
Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King’s College London since 1982. In 2003 he was appointed Vice-Principal (Research) at King’s. His expertise is in Contemporary Defence and Foreign Policy Issues. He says:
War makes headlines and history books. It has shaped the international system, prompted social change and inspired literature, art and music. It endangers some of the most intense as well as the most brutal human experiences and it raises the fundamental questions of human ethics.
Lawrence Freedman was educated at Whitley Bay Grammar School and the Universities of Manchester, York and Oxford. Before joining King’s he held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, IISS and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and awarded the CBE in 1996, he was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.
Usha was born in Kenya in 1948. She came to the UK in 1964 to study for her A’ levels and attended WakefieldGirlsSchool in Yorkshire, where she later became the Head Girl in 1966. Usha went to the University of Leeds to read Political Studies and graduated in 1970. She attended the University of Glasgow where she did her postgraduate in Social Administration.
Usha has had a long and distinguished career in public service and the not-for-profit sector. Her first role was as the Conciliation Officer in the then, Race Relations Board. This role strongly convinced her of how fundamental the issue of race relations is to public policies.
In 1976, Usha became the Assistant Director of the Runnymede Trust and a year later became the director, a post she held until 1984. Between 1984 and 1986, Usha was a fellow at the Policy Studies Institute and between 1986 and 1991; she was the director of the National Council for Voluntary organisations. From 1992 until 1997 Usha had a portfolio of activities. These included: membership of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct, the Arts Council and a non-executive director of Channel 4.
In 1997, she became the first female executive chair of the Parole Board of England and Wales and remained in that post until 2000. In 2000, she was appointed the first Civil Service Commissioner, a post she left in December 2005 when she became the first Chair of the newly established Judicial Appointments Commission.
Usha was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1994. In 1999, she was made a life peer, sitting as a crossbencher in the House of Lords.
Usha’s various other appointments have included a member of the Management Committee of the Kings Fund from 1998-2002, a board member of Salzburg Seminar, an American educational organisation based in Austria from 2000-2004, a member of the House of Lords and House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2001-2004, she chaired the Law Society’s Governance Review Group from 2003-2004, she was a member of the Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System from 2003-2004, Chair of the National Literacy Trust from 2001-2005 a non-executive director of Unite Group Plc from 2001-2004, Chancellor of De Montfort University from 2000-2006, a trustee of the BBC World Service from 2000-2005, and a member of the Arts Council of England and Wales. Since 2001 she has been the Chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, since 2003 a Governor and member of the management committee of the Ditchley Foundation and since 2005 a non-executive director of the ITV board.