‘Blair Should Face The Consequences’

Demonstrators with a coffin illustrating the blood price of the Iraq war
Demonstrators with a coffin illustrating the blood price of the Iraq war

‘Blair lied, thousands died’, chanted over seven hundred, mainly young, protesters outside the Iraq Inquiry last Friday, the day that the former prime minister gave evidence.

News Line spoke to some of the demonstrators: Tim McCombie from Oxford, studying at Camberwell College of Art, said: ‘I’m here because it’s very important to be one more person amongst others just to show Tony Blair people do care.

‘The war is awful. It doesn’t make sense.

‘Tony Blair started the war on jumped up reasons.

‘He didn’t listen to anyone in Britain who didn’t want the war.

‘He should be tried because he had the power to do it or not to do it – and he chose to do it, and it was completely wrong.

‘He had the power to put thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘He should face the consequences.’

Unemployed teenager Meera Osborne (18) said: ‘I’m here to support this protest.

‘I think what Tony Blair did is violation to the country and the world.

‘He went into Iraq without any reason. It was unlawful.

‘We’re meant to be living in a democratic society.

‘People said we don’t want to go to war and he ignored this.

‘Because of him hundreds of thousands of people died.’

Caul Grant of Campaign for Truth and Justice, told News Line: ‘We were on the march in February 2003 against the war in Iraq.

‘We’re here today to support the demand that Blair be arrested and prosecuted.

‘We believe, like the majority of people here, that Blair had no moral or legal authority to launch a war against another sovereign state using a defence of justification whilst being guilty of violating the very same principle for which he sent young men and women to die.

‘He is a war criminal, no one is above the law.

‘He went to war knowing Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no possibility of defending itself.’

Sixth Form student Tom Dunt from Caterham, said: ‘I came to protest against the war crimes that have been committed.

‘And I’m trying to find out more people’s opinions on who’s to blame – if it is Blair or a higher power he is working for, such as the banks.

‘I’m concerned that the whole process of the Chilcot Inquiry is to legitimise the invasion.

‘Blair should be put on trial as a war criminal.’

Artist Anna H added: ‘I’m against the war.

‘I’ve been on most of the demonstrations since 2003.

‘I consider it my responsibility to be here today to make my voice heard against Blair.

‘It’s not really a democracy, we’re not even supposed to be doing this protest.’

Fran Graham, (21) environment campaigner, said: ‘I’m here to protest against the fact that Tony Blair is going to get away scot free for the war crimes he’s committed.

‘I went on the original march before the invasion of Iraq and I was let down by the government.

‘I’m here today to let them know I’m still angry about it, still care about it.’

Fran’s friend, unemployed graduate Rosie Shimell added: ‘I don’t have a lot of faith that the inquiry will result in a trial of Tony Blair.

‘But I think it is important that we have as many people here as we can, if nothing else to show solidarity and sympathy with people who are dying in Iraq.

‘Also, it is important to show our government that this is an issue that hasn’t gone away, that people are still angry.

‘Hopefully, it will stop anything like this happening again in the future.

‘Certainly Blair should be tried as a war criminal.

‘I think it sets a dangerous precedent for other prime ministers and world leaders if he is not.’

Retired carpenter John Howsam told News Line: ‘I’m here for truth and justice, standing up for what you believe in.

‘As a result of Blair’s lies, we’ve attacked a virtually defenceless country and killed hundreds of thousand of ordinary, innocent men women and children.

‘Blair should be made to pay for his crimes, like any other criminal.

‘He promised America he would back them, then he came to Britain and told a pack of lies in order to attack Iraq.

‘He lied about the weapons of mass destruction, he lied about everything, now he’s hiding behind the Christian faith to try and appear more sincere.’

At lunchtime, two of the military families addressed the crowd.

Deirdre Gover, whose son Flight Lieutenant Kristian Gover was killed in the Iraq war, said briefly: ‘I hold Tony Blair personally responsible for my son’s death.

‘The anger and sorrow has gone. We will never get justice.

‘I’m wearing my son’s medals with pride.

‘It was the wrong war, the wrong prime minister, the wrong time.’

She told News Line afterwards: ‘Blair can’t be tried as a war criminal, but I wouldn’t mind if he were.

‘The Iraq Inquiry is doing its best, but it’s not a court of law.’

The mother of Llywelyn Evans, 24, the first British serviceman to die in the Iraq war, Theresa Evans said she was disgusted by Blair’s ‘lies’ during the morning session, in particular his pledge to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the US.

She told the crowd: ‘My other son is still serving in Iraq.

‘Tony Blair laughed and smiled at one point.

‘He does not seem to answer directly, just goes round and around.

‘My son was killed in an American helicopter. Hearing Blair it is true – he is a puppet and has no feelings.

‘He was not fit to run this country and I feel sick that I voted for him in the first place.

‘I never thought I would speak like I have today.

‘We’ve got to keep going. We can’t let this prime minister go on treating us as he is treating us now.

‘My son was proud to wear his uniform and I am proud to be his mum.’

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq in 2004, told News Line in the lunch break: ‘Four of us were able to get in despite being told we wouldn’t.

‘We were told there were spare tickets.

‘I thought the morning went quite well but we didn’t find out anything we didn’t already know.

‘We still want to find out why the troops were sent in and why my son Gordon was killed.

‘If it turns out to be illegal, Blair should be put on trial.’