The Iraq Inquiry should be published in June or July 2016, Sir John Chilcot says.
In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron published on the Iraq Inquiry website, Chilcot said the two million word report would be finished by April, and then would need two months or so for national security checks before being published.
The inquiry has been widely criticised for delays in publishing the report, which was first ordered by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009, and the need for a further nine months has been met with dismay by the families of those killed in Iraq.
Cameron said he was “disappointed” in the continued delay and offered the inquiry further resources to expedite the publication process.
The inquiry is examining how the UK arrived at the decision to invade Iraq as a major partner in the US-led coalition in 2003, and the aftermath.
Previous delays in the publication of the report have been blamed on very slow responses by those criticised within its pages.
Former prime minister Tony Blair is expected to be criticised for his role in marching the UK towards war, and his recent pseudo-apology in a CNN interview for some aspects of the lead up to the invasion are widely believed to be an exercise in political spin to get ahead of the criticism.
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria, Blair said:
“I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought.
“I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.
“But I find it hard to apologise for removing Saddam. I think even form today in 2015, it is better that he’s not there than if he is there”
A total of 179 UK service personnel, almost 4,500 US soldiers, and an estimated 135,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.