Why did the Saville Inquiry take so long?

The Widgery Inquiry, investigating the same events, completed its investigation and issued its report within three months. Many have argued that that report was too rushed but twelve years seems too far in the opposite direction.

(Mods, if you feel this is more of a Great Debate issue rather than a General Question feel free to move it.)

According to BBC News it was apparently closed in 2004 and scheduled for release the following year. Why the delay I do not know, but it seems the report itself took “only” six years, which might be explained by the over 2500 testimonials included, and 5000 pages.

So the question is really why did it take six years to get published?

I feel it’s more of a complete enigma. Who or what the heck are Saville or Widgery?

Saville and Widgery.

The principal criticism of the Widgery Tribunal is not that its report was too rushed. The report could have been written in a week. The only reason the Tribunal needed to last for three months was to put some pretence of legal process behind its preordained conclusions.

If I may be permitted a bit of cynicism, I might point out that the report was handed over to the lawyers in March of this year, when the polls started suggesting
Gordon Brown wasn’t going to be PM for very much longer. Then it didn’t become public until that had come to pass.

Keep in mind that a major criticism of Brown’s predecessor Blair was that he used public inquiries as a tool to stifle government criticism while also using it to beat down his opponents. It was noted that when Blair conducted an inquiry on a subject embarrassing to his government it was all but sent to Room 101, while inquiries which embarrassed opponents travelled through at light speed.

One should note that the Saville Inquiry was started under Blair, wrapped up under Blair, and effectively silenced under Blair and Brown. I just don’t think it’s a coincidence that now, after being finished for over six years, the report suddenly appears a month into a Tory/LibDem administration.

Bottom line is, and I’m hardly a Tory apologist saying this, but Labour didn’t want Saville to come out, for whatever reason. Or maybe they just didn’t want to handle the fallout. The joke’s on them–I thought Cameron did an excellent job in presenting the findings.

The slightly longer answer is it took so long because it was in the interests of all those involved in its preparation for it to do so. It was a wonderful, invulnerable cash cow that they could milk for a ridiculously time, and because they could, they did.

Consider the situation. You have a member of the aristocracy with nothing better to do and lots of lawyers and bureaucrats earning nice fees from the Inquiry. They all realise that they can keep the thing going for as long as they like. No-one will dare to shut the Inquiry down because it would cause a massive political storm. Also, if anyone suggests they should ‘hurry up’, all those concerned can simply retort, “But you do want it to be thorough and definitive, don’t you? Or do you want us leaking a suggestion to the press that the report won’t be as thorough as it could be, and some details will be skipped, because of your political interference?”

There is no other explanation, and if we believe the Wiki summary (and I see no reason not to do so) then the statistics are simply mind-boggling. Just to take one little example: “On 8 February 2008, Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward revealed that the Bloody Sunday Inquiry was still costing £500,000 a month although it had not held hearings since 2005.”

Half a million pounds per month, at a time when the Inquiry wasn’t even calling any witnesses. I suggest it is literally inconceivable that this amount of money was actually warranted by the amount of work being done, effort being expended or skill involved.

The simple truth is that whenever you give someone the right to spend taxpayer’s money, they will abuse the privilege as much as they can.