LAST week, after seven years of investigation which scrutinised 150,000 government papers and 150 witnesses, the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War was published. I was against the Iraq War at the time and for me the Chilcot Report has only confirmed the reasons why.

Military action is an extreme measure which should only be taken in extreme circumstances, where all other options have failed. The Chilcot Report considered this and found that our ally – the United States – pushed for war far too early and before all other options had failed. It was not a last resort.

We were told at the time that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which could be used at 45 minutes’ notice, and we were pushing for his disarmament. Yet we did not give weapons inspectors the time they needed to complete their investigations into whether Iraq truly had these weapons. We did not wait for the United Nations to agree to military intervention.

In March 2003 our brilliant armed forces were ordered to invade Iraq alongside US forces. By the middle of April, Baghdad had fallen and Saddam’s government fell with it. The entire apparatus of the Iraqi government was disbanded and destroyed.

They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing but is it really a surprise that dismantling the police, armed forces and government agencies would lead to chaos and a total loss of law and order in Iraq? We are still seeing the consequences of this today in the form of the so-called ‘Islamic State’. There should have been a plan.

Without such a plan, British troops had no choice but to face the reality of governing Basra, the second largest city in Iraq at the time with 1.5 million inhabitants, while also fighting against insurgent militias that had looted the Iraqi security services’ weapons.

Military action should only be taken for well-proven and internationally agreed reasons, and if regime change is an objective, though I believe it should not be, there must be a plan in place for what follows afterwards.

Although friends and families of those courageous British service personnel killed in Iraq will never have their loved ones back, we owe it to their memory that we must learn from our actions in Iraq and never follow the same course of action again.