GORDON Brown said today that Britain made "the right decision for the right reasons" to go to war in Iraq.

Opening his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, the Prime Minister expressed his sadness for the loss of life in the conflict.

But he insisted that it had been necessary for the international community to confront Saddam Hussein.

"I think this is the gravest decision to go to war," he said. "It was the right decision and it was for the right reasons."

Mr Brown paid tribute to the sacrifice of the British troops who had lost their lives in the conflict while acknowledging the scale of the civilian losses.

"Any loss of life is something that makes us very sad indeed," he said.

Unlike Tony Blair when he appeared in January, Mr Brown entered the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, where the inquiry is being held, by the front entrance.

Only a small knot of protesters had gathered to mark his arrival.