Tony Blair was today confirmed as one of the witnesses who will appear before Britain's long awaited inquiry into the Iraq War as it was launched with a promise to level criticism where necessary.

The former prime minister is likely to be joined by Gordon Brown among those called to give evidence.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said his committee would look at the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, covering the run-up to the conflict, the military action and the aftermath. This is the widest scope ever for a government inquiry.

"We are determined to be thorough, rigorous, fair and frank to enable us to form impartial and evidence-based judgements on all aspects of the issues, including the arguments about the legality of the conflict," Chilcot told a press conference to announce the launch of the inquiry.

Sir John stressed that this was not a court of law and no one was on trial. "But I want to make one thing absolutely clear. This Committee will not shy away from making criticism. If we find that mistakes were made, that there were issues which could have been dealt with better, we will say so frankly."

The aim is to better equip any future government to respond in the most effective manner if a similar situation is faced in the future, he said.

Click here to read the full report from The London Times.