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Secret documents at core of Chilcot Inquiry -

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The man heading the inquiry into Britain's decision to go to war with Iraq, Sir John Chilcot, has
revealed secret documents will form the core of the investigation.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES: Sir John Chilcot, the man heading the inquiry into Britain's decision to go to war
with Iraq, has revealed that secret documents will form the core of the investigation. Commenting
at the end of the public stage of the inquiry, Sir John said the documents could also help decide
who else may be interviewed at a later date.

The last to appear was former foreign secretary Jack Straw, fronting the inquiry for a second time.
And he again defended the legal case for prosecuting the war.

Europe Correspondent Philip Williams reports from London.

HECKLER: You traitor!

PHILIP WILLIAMS, ABC EUROPE CORRESPONDENT: A lone heckler shouts "Traitor!" as the former foreign
secretary returned to what is becoming something of a lion's den.

New teeth for inquiry members emboldened by secret documents which appear to point to US intentions
to invade Iraq with or without a second UN resolution or even the backing of its own secretary of
state, Colin Powell.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN, IRAQ INQUIRY MEMBER: Was there any point where Powell said to you that even
if Iraq complied, president Bush had already made a decision that he intended to go to war?

JACK STRAW, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: What, even if they complied, he'd made that decision?

LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Yes.

JACK STRAW: Certainly not to the best of my recollection.

LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I was going to suggest you might want to look through your conversations and
check.

JACK STRAW: I will go through the records. I think you are trying to tell me something.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: That something remains hidden. But what was on clear display was Jack Straw's
reply to lawyers from his own Foreign Ministry, who at an earlier hearing claimed an invasion of
Iraq was illegal without a second UN resolution.

ELISABETH WILMHURST, FORMER FOREIGN OFFICE LEGAL ADVISOR: I think that the process that was
followed in this case was lamentable and there should have been a greater transparency within
government.

INQUIRY MEMBER: Did it make a difference that Jack Straw is, himself, a qualified lawyer?

ELISABETH WILMHURST: He's not an international lawyer.

JACK STRAW: I'm famously not an international lawyer, but I was able to bring something to the
party, which was ex-intense knowledge of the negotiating history.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: And what of the then-attorney-general Lord Goldsmith's advice to cabinet just days
before the war began that the invasion was legal?

Why had cabinet not been told it was a finely balanced decision?

JACK STRAW: The cabinet were fully aware that the arguments were finely balanced. It was, Sir John,
impossible to open a newspaper without being fully aware of the balance of the arguments. And...

SIR JOHN CHILCOT, IRAQ INQUIRY HEAD: Though that is not, of course, legal advice.

(laughter)

JACK STRAW: No, well...

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Jack Straw said the cabinet heavy weights just wanted a yes or no answer from Lord
Goldsmith.

Former international development secretary Clare Short gave evidence her attempts to question Lord
Goldsmith at that meeting were shut down.

CLARE SHORT, FORMER INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: And they're all saying (growls), "Clare!
Stop!" I mean, everything was fraught by then and they didn't want me arguing.

JACK STRAW: I don't challenge her recollection, um... but that's n-not my recollection.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Clare Short also made it clear she thought a deal had been done with the Americans
that the UK would back the war with or without UN support.

But Hans Blix and his team of UN weapons inspectors should have been given the extra time they
wanted in Iraq, time they were not granted.

CLARE SHORT: We've made Iraq more dangerous as well as causing enormous suffering.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: The Iraq Inquiry wants to question former members of the Bush administration.

It's not clear how many want to take up that invitation. And then it's hoped the panel will travel
to Iraq, where the war and its aftermath are a daily reality for everyone.

Philip Williams, Lateline.