Friday 9 December 2016

Long wait for answers for relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq ahead of Chilcot report release

Joe Nerssessian and Ryan Hooper

Published 06/07/2016 | 07:54

Composite image of the 179 troops that died during the conflict in Iraq. Photo: PA Wire
Composite image of the 179 troops that died during the conflict in Iraq. Photo: PA Wire
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry in London's Queen Elizabeth II conference centre. Photo: Chilcot inquiry/PA Wire
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) alongside former US President George Bush. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Relatives of some of the British soldiers killed in the Iraq war arrived in London this morning as their wait for answers over the conflict entered its final hours.

  • Go To

Families insisted they have not been told what is in Sir John Chilcot's historic report, which has been seven years in the making.

The report was being unveiled by Sir John today at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in Westminster.

Mark Thompson, whose son, Private Kevin Thompson, 21, from Lancaster, died in 2007 from injuries he suffered when his truck was attacked in Basra, said he felt "nervous" ahead of the publication.

He told the Press Association: "We've all been told nothing. We know just as much as you do. It's nerve-wracking for all the families.

"It is going to be very nervous because none of us know what to expect."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) alongside former US President George Bush. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) alongside former US President George Bush. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Mr Thompson added: "There's not a lot to say, really, because it's going to take a long time to get through it all."

The long-awaited report will be boycotted by relatives of some of the 179 Britons killed in the conflict, who fear it will be a "whitewash".

Master Engineer Gary Nicholson, 42, from Hull, was one of 10 servicemen who died when their Hercules C-130 aircraft was shot down in 2005.

His mother Julia said: "It will be a whitewash. I'm absolutely disgusted. I'm not going because it will be a whitewash.

"Tony Blair has got blood on his hands. He will have covered his back and (George) Bush's back."

Janice Procter, whose son, Private Michael Tench, 18, from Sunderland, was one of the youngest British soldiers to die in Iraq when he was killed in 2007, said: "It's been horrendous, I'm very apprehensive about this.

Protesters hold a banner outside the London home of former Prime Minister Tony Blair ahead of the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Protesters hold a banner outside the London home of former Prime Minister Tony Blair ahead of the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

"This man (Blair) has put 179 kids to the slaughter - there's no justice. It (the report) is not going to give me any closure or comfort."

She added: "I'm not going down on the day, I'm not going to waste two hours of my life reading it."

The father of Lieutenant Alexander Tweedie, 25, from Hawick in the Scottish borders who died in 2003, said he expected the report to be damning of Tony Blair.

Gavin Tweedie said: "I'm hoping that Tony Blair is heavily criticised but more than that I don't know what to expect."

"I think he (Mr Blair) will be but we have to wait and see."

Mr Tweedie said he was unable to make the trip to London but had asked for a copy of the report to be sent to him and his wife.

Sarah O'Connor, whose brother Sergeant Bob O'Connor was killed in action when his Hercules plane was shot down in 2005, said the length of time it had taken to complete the report made "a mockery of the inquiry system".

She said: "For many people this has been - from the first knock on the door - that next step. But it has taken so long.

"At the beginning, Sir John came around to the families and said we were at the forefront of the investigation. I had such faith in this process.

"But it has been like the toner cartridge in a printer. What has started off strong and bold has now become just a faint line.

"The length of time it has taken to get this has made a mockery of the inquiry system - for Iraq, for Rotherham ... Anybody who has found themselves on either side of the scales, this has taken too long. It's been a farce."

John Miller's son, Simon, was one of six military policemen murdered in the country in 2003. Mr Miller said he hoped Mr Blair would be put on trial at the International Criminal Court.

"There's got to be some kind of court case, be that In The Hague or elsewhere. I want to see him in the dock," he told Sky News.

Karen Thornton, whose son Gunner Lee Thornton died in 2006 after being shot while on patrol in Iraq, said she wanted Mr Blair to face war crimes charges if it is proved he lied.

"I just think it was all based on lies, I think everything that comes out of that man's mouth has been a lie regarding Iraq," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think the people who lied should be held to account for what they have done," she said. Asked what that would mean, she said: "Charged with war crimes. They are responsible for the deaths of so many people."

Press Association

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News