It was the chance to start rebuilding the public's trust in politicians, to carry out a wide ranging investigation into one of the most controversial decisions taken by a UK Government in recent years - that to join the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq in 2003 which led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians and at the time of writing 179 UK soldiers. The decision to go to war was heavily influenced by a dossier suggesting that the Iraqi Government had weapons of mass destruction, which was later found not to be the case.
What is the point, though, of having an inquiry that meets entirely in secret? The official excuse is so that witnesses can be more candid. I guess that where there are issues of national security involved, then there is an argument to hold some sessions in private, but to have the whole thing behind closed doors is hardly going to inspire public confidence in the result.
I've always thought that pretty much everything should be public knowledge unless there is a very good reason for keeping it secret. The Labour Government instinctively takes the opposite view - that things are naturally best left secret unless the courts force them to release it.
I think it's much healther for a government to view the relationship it has with its citizens as a partnership rather than as master and servant. If it does that, it will share information whenever it can.
The truth is that unless the evidence is scrutinised by the public and we are able to see the Cabinet minutes of the crucial decision which the Government has refused to publish, the inquiry will have no credibility whatsoever and will just be a huge waste of everyone's time and money.