Tony Blair’s defence to the volume of evidence damning him is simple: pass the buck. In what you might call the ‘big boy did it and ran away’ strategy, he blames Sir John Scarlett and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), and the spies from MI5 and MI6, for failing him. The intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was ‘flawed’, he now says, trying to excuse himself for launching a war in which hundreds of thousands died, directly or indirectly.

The implication, he wants us to believe, is that he wouldn’t have taken us to war if he had known then what he knows now.

Really? Sir John Chilcot allows Blair the benefit of doubt over his ignorance, which is a rather surprising concession given the forensic conclusions he comes to in other areas of his report. But Blair either knew that there were no WMDs, in which case he lied and continues to do so, or he was too stupid, too deaf and blind to the abundant facts to comprehend them - which belies all we know about him.

Saddam actually destroyed his WMD weapons stock in 1991 after the first Gulf war. If this wasn’t known to our agents and through aerial and satellite surveillance it should have been queried in 1995 when Hussein Kamal, Saddam’s son-in-law, defected to Jordan. Hussein had been in charge of Iraq’s weapons programme and had many reasons to damn his father-in-law, but instead he strenuously maintained, “Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. I am being honest about this.”

He was extensively interviewed by MI6 and CIA agents and we now know he was telling the truth. Fast forward to September 2002 and the infamous ‘dodgy dossier’ which claimed that these weapons could be activated in 45 minutes. From its inception the dossier was “designed to make the case and secure Parliamentary and public support for the government’s position” that urgent action was needed, aka war. Chilcot reveals that while this was intended to be seen as a product of the independent Joint Intelligence Committee it was shaped by Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Downing Street had ordered the report in February 2002, in the wake of George Bush’s Axis of Evil State of the Union address in which Iraq was one of the states targeted. Publication was then postponed because Straw was convinced that it would not persuade the public there was an imminent threat from Iraq.

Eventually, in September 2002, the dossier, signed off by the JIC, was published. It contained sites, and aerial photographs, of where the WMD were allegedly being manufactured. I was in Iraq at the time with several other journalists. The Iraqi government were quick to agree to take us to these sites. We visited what were abandoned, broken down facilities which had clearly been put beyond use years before.

The dossier was quickly rubbished. Much of it had been plagiarised – including typographical errors - from various sources, including from the graduate PhD thesis of student Ibrahim al-Marashi. Another so-called source was ‘Curveball' - a dissident chemical engineer called Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who claimed to have worked in a mobile biological weapons lab. This was complete invention.

The dogmatic and overstated foreword to the report was written by Tony Blair and put together by his pugnacious spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who claims now that Chilcot vindicates him of allegations that it was ‘sexed up’. This, in retrospect, is the least of the charges.

Despite its risibility it was never recanted by the British government and much of the material was used by Colin Powell, then US Secretary of State, in making the case before the UN that Saddam possessed WMDs.

The 9/11 attack had given the excuse for action. US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that he asked the CIA on ten occasions to find evidence linking Saddam to the attack. The agency came back each time empty-handed. But, as history shows, Rumsfeld was not to be denied. Britain and the US regularly exchange intelligence reports. The planning for Saddam’s removal had been in train almost since the day George W Bush opened the door to the White House and this was not just known to Blair and the spooks on the banks of the Thames.

Dr Malcolm McIntosh, an academic and author of Managing Britain’s Defence, says that he was at a conference of senior business leaders in New York a month after the attacks on the Twin Towers and in a closed door meeting, General Wesley Clark, then very senior in the Pentagon, gave details of forthcoming invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by US and other forces. Those present were given outline strategies, troop numbers and dates and, further, told that there were no contingency plans for what would happen after the invasion. Except that US policy was to leave Iraq unstable and chaotic so that it couldn’t pose a threat in the region and US could control oil assets as well as establishing a large base.

This chimes with a blueprint drawn up in 2000, for the Republican think-tank Project for a New American Century and authored by US vice-president Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy, Jeb Bush and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff. It showed that Bush’s cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam was in power. Rumsfeld and the others would make sure he was not.

None of this, we’re expected to believe, Tony Blair was aware of. “I will be with you, whatever,” he wrote in a private note to Bush in July 2002. He now claims that this definite pledge was not a commitment to join the US in going to war. So what did it mean? “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean,” said Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass. And we know how that ended.