Eric's position on Iraq appears a little ambiguous. Of the 4 Iraq-related divisions debated by the House in 2003, Eric voted against the government on two (96 and 117), with the government on one (118) and failed to vote in the other (97)
Yet back in 2002, as a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Eric expressed concerns over British involvement in possible action in Iraq.
Fast-forward to 2003 and we see Eric jumping to the defence of Alastair Campbell over the allegations of sexing up the now infamous dossier. However, his statement attracted criticism from fellow committee member John Maples. In light of subsequent revelations concerning the compiling of the dossier, Eric's belief at the time that the dossier was compiled by intelligence chiefs appears naive. That Eric feels that he and the public had been misled is apparent from his call on the 16th July 2004 for a further inquiry:
Eric Illsley, Labour MP for Barnsley Central, a member of the Commons foreign affairs committee, called yesterday for an inquiry into why Parliament and the public were not told that the intelligence had been discredited.
Had it been made known to the Hutton inquiry it could have "changed the atmosphere" of the hearing. Lord Hutton would have had to comment on the quality of the intelligence which went into the dossier.
Mr Illsley said the Intelligence and Security Committee was entitled to ask why it was not made aware that the intelligence had been withdrawn or why no public announcement was made qualifying the dossier on WMD.
"Anyone reading the dossier today would still think it was a relevant document and all the information in it was secure intelligence gathered at the time," Mr Illsey told BBC Radio 4's World at One.