Friday 23 March 2018

Chilcot report is 'a great result' for families of troops killed in Iraq War

Sir John Chilcot leaves the stage after presenting The Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London Photo: REUTERS/Dan Kitwood/Pool
Sir John Chilcot leaves the stage after presenting The Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London Photo: REUTERS/Dan Kitwood/Pool

Christopher Hope and Ben Farmer

MPs and the families of servicemen and women who died in the Iraq War and its aftermath reacted with relief that John Chilcot's report was not the whitewash they had feared.

They had been nervous after previous official reports into the war - notably the Hutton inquiry into the circumstances around the death of David Kelly, the UN weapons inspector - had failed to hold officials and ministers properly to account.

Lord Hutton's inquiry was criticised because it cleared the government of publishing information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that it probably knew was wrong. The concerns had led the families to threaten earlier this week to boycott the report's publication.

Ronnie Barker, whose son Private Lee Ellis died in 2006, said she had broken into tears when reading the report and realising it was critical of the authorities. Pte Ellis was 23 when he was killed along with Captain Richard John Holmes by a homemade roadside bomb that exploded beneath their vehicle.

Ms Barker said the report had found the vehicle he was travelling in was "not fit for purpose". She said: "We went in thinking it was going to be a whitewash, but I actually cried."

Mr Chilcot spent many hours with the families in 2009 to help frame the scope and focus of the inquiry.

Eddie Hancock from Wigan, whose 19-year-old son Jamie was a kingsman (private) with the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment when he was killed in Basra in 2006, said Chilcot had "done exactly as he said he would - it wasn't a whitewash by any means".

He added: "He's fulfilled the promises that he made in 2009. What he has actually said is that [Tony] Blair undermined the United Nations.

"Now, if somebody does that, you would think that the act was illegal. He's also misled parliament, he's fabricated facts and misrepresented them."


Colin Redpath, whose son L/Cpl Kirk Redpath of 1st Bn Irish Guards died in 2007, said: "There was talk of a whitewash, but I was really surprised today with what Sir John Chilcot came out with. I think it was a great result for the families and something to work on. I think it was very thorough."

In the House of Commons, the report was praised for its thoroughness by David Cameron, the UK prime minister, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.

Mr Cameron said it was a "difficult day" for the families of the 179 British servicemen and women and 23 British civilians who died during the 2003 conflict and its aftermath.

He said he hoped the families could "draw at least some solace from the depth and rigour of this report and above all some comfort from knowing that we will never forget the invaluable service and sacrifice of their sons, daughters, husbands and wives".

Mr Corbyn said the report "rightly dug deep into the litany of failures" of planning for the invasion and its aftermath.

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