FORMER Worcester MP Mike Foster has defended his decision over the Iraq war - saying "you can't turn the clock back" no matter how much he’d like to.

After a seven-year inquiry Sir John Chilcot finally released his findings into the controversial 2003 invasion today in a blisteringly-critical 2.6 million-word document.

Tony Blair pushed Britain into the Iraq war by picking and choosing evidence that suited him and failed to plan for the lethal aftermath, the inquiry declared.

The report slammed the ex-Prime Minister over the £11.8 billion conflict that killed 179 British troops, more than 150,000 Iraqis and opened the door to IS terrorists.

Mr Foster, who represented Worcester in the Commons from 1997 to 2010, voted for the conflict in 2003.

This afternoon, he said: "The difficulty is, you can only make decisions at the time, with the evidence you are faced with.

"If you turn back the clock, faced with the same decision and absolutely nothing new, an honest politician would tell you they'd make exactly the same decision they made then.

"With hindsight, politicians of all colours would probably have made different decisions.

"But you can never turn the clock back, no matter how much you'd like to, for all sorts of reasons."

He also defended Mr Blair, saying he felt the ex-premier had acted "in good faith" when urging MPs to back war.

"From what I've seen in the report, nobody is saying anyone sexed up a dossier," he said.

“The central question people will want to know is, does the Chilcot Report identify areas of practice that could help inform future governments.

“That’s the important thing because for me, the frustration has been waiting so long for Chilcot to come out.

“Yes, the Iraq war has really obvious ramifications but the evidence was presented in good faith with the best information at the time, genuinely you only make a decision based on that.”

Hours after the findings were released Mr Blair apologised to the nation after the dossier destroyed his legacy for pushing Britain into the conflict.

Amid 12 volumes of blistering criticism, the Chilcot Report said the invasion started before "peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted".

It stated that Saddam Hussein posed "no imminent threat" at the time of the invasion and that war "was not a last resort".

It also said Britain was guilty of "flawed intelligence" before the war, "wholly inadequate" planning for its aftermath and that Mr Blair's use of evidence left a "damaging legacy" that undermines "trust and confidence" in politicians to this day.

Meanwhile leader of Worcester City Council has revealed his anger at the years of waiting for the Chilcot Report to emerge - calling it “a complete failure”.

Councillor Adrian Gregson, Worcester Labour Party’s top figurehead, said the seven years of waiting for the inquiry to finish has piled on the agony for families left suffering.

He also told the Worcester News he had come to the conclusion “over time” that the ill-fated venture in Iraq was fatally flawed.

One of the key conclusions of the Chilcot Report was ‘no clear strategy for Iraq’ once Suddam Hussein had been removed.

“I think we did lose some members over it, it was a long time ago now,” said Councillor Gregson.

“The people directly affected by the conflict should never have waited this long

“It’s a complete failure of the British Government to have waited for all these years for the report to come out.

“I didn’t believe the invasion was a viable act, but I came to that conclusion over time, rather than immediately.

“There was no exit plan and I definitely think that’s what caused the major difficulties around Iraq, it was a failure of doing things properly.”

But he also insisted the party had moved on from Tony Blair.

“I do think the Labour Party has moved on from it, what we have to do is look at the report and learn from it,” he said.

At the time of the Iraq war Labour constituencies around the country were up in arms about the conflict.

Elsewhere Councillor Richard Udall, the chairman of the Labour group at Worcestershire County Council, called the outcome “predictable”.

“The outcome of the Chilcot Report is predictable, it’s what many of us had said at the time,” he said.

“I was opposed to the conflict myself and it’s fair to say, few Labour Party members were prepared to support the leader at the time, it was a very difficult situation.

“But I don’t believe Tony Blair made decisions at the time that he felt were not in the public interest, I think he felt he was doing the right thing.”

Some MPs have also started to react, with West Worcestershire Conservative Harriett Baldwin saying Britain must learn "the lessons of history".

"The Chilcot report is a detailed overview of the steps Tony Blair's Government took to make the case to invade Iraq," she said.

"My thoughts today are with the families who lost loved ones as a result of this conflict.

"This is an extensive report and it is important that we learn the lessons of history or we are condemned to repeat them."


MINISTERS from Prime Minister Tony Blair downwards, Whitehall mandarins and senior army officers all came in for criticism in Sir John's seven-year inquiry into the conflict.

Here are the key points:

  • The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before "peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted" and "military action at that time was not a last resort".
  • Saddam Hussein posed "no imminent threat" at the time of the invasion.
  • No support for Blair critics' claim that he agreed a deal "signed in blood" to topple Saddam with US President George W Bush in April 2002.
  • But in July 2002 Blair wrote to Bush: "I will be with you whatever."
  • The UK's decision to act despite no second UN resolution backing military action in March 2003 had the effect of "undermining the Security Council's authority".
  • Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's decision that there was a legal basis for UK involvement in invasion was taken in a way which was "far from satisfactory".
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair's September 2002 Commons statement and dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) made judgments that "were presented with a certainty that was not justified".
  • The Labour Government's policy on Iraq was made on the basis of "flawed intelligence and assessments" that should have been challenged.
  • The consequences of the invasion were "under-estimated", and planning and preparation for after the overthrow of Saddam were "wholly inadequate".
  • The Government's war preparations "failed to take into account the magnitude of the task of stabilising, administering and reconstructing Iraq".
  • Problems that arose following the invasion, including internal fighting, Iranian influences, regional instability and al Qaeda activity, were flagged as risks before the invasion.
  • Whitehall mandarins and departmental ministers "failed to put their collective weight behind the task" of stabilising British parts of post-war Iraq.
  • The Ministry of Defence was slow to respond to the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to troops.
  • Delays in providing better-protected patrol vehicles "should not have been tolerated".
  • It was "humiliating" that by 2007 British troops in Basra had to use prisoner exchanges to get militias to stop targeting them.
  • Tony Blair "overestimated his ability to influence US decisions on Iraq".
  • The US/UK special relationship has proved "strong enough to bear the weight of honest disagreement" and "does not require unconditional support where our interests or judgments differ".