Rose Gentle, Susan Smith, Peter Brierley and Karla Hewett, whose sons and brother died in the Iraq war, set up a 24-hour Peace Camp opposite Downing Street yesterday afternoon.
Furious that the government has turned them down, they are appealing to the public for donations to fund their legal challenge for a public inquiry into the legality of the Iraq war and the full circumstances of their relatives’ deaths.
The families say in a statement that ‘if the case succeeds the resulting public inquiry would see senior ministers called for cross-examination to include the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Attorney General.’
Speaking outside Downing Street, Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon died in a roadside bombing in Basra on 28th June 2004, said: ‘We think we should be allowed legal aid, just like anybody else.
‘I think the reason we’re not getting legal aid is because of Tony Blair, because we’re opposed to his war. If it was anyone else, I think they’d get it.
‘We want an inquiry because we believe this war was based on lies by the government.
‘Every time Tony Blair opens his mouth, lies come out, and now he says he won’t bring the troops home until Iraq is “changed’’. How can he go over to Iraq and “change” other people?
‘We want the troops brought home now.’
She added: ‘If it wasn’t for Tony Blair and his lies my son would be living.’
Susan Smith, the mother of Phillip Hewett, who died in Al Amarah in southern Iraq on July 16 this year, said: ‘I want the troops withdrawn immediately.
‘I believe the war was illegal. They have not proved to me it wasn’t.
‘If Blair and the government have nothing to hide, then why won’t they agree to the public inquiry we’re demanding?’
She added: ‘I hope people realise this war is still going on and something needs to be done.’
Phillip Hewett’s sister, Karla Hewett said: ‘Me and my mum want to get the truth out of Tony Blair. That’s all we want.
‘I want to see the occupation ended and I think the troops should be withdrawn straight away.’
Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun Andrew Brierley died in Iraq on March 30, 2003, said: ‘They’re hoping the more obstacles they put in our way, we will disappear, we will stop campaigning.
‘This is just a reminder to Tony Blair that we’re still here and we’re still campaigning.
‘The troops have to come out immediately.
‘Over this last week, they’ve said they can’t pull the troops out because it would cause chaos.
‘But surely you just have to watch the news and it’s chaos already. They’ve lost the backing of the Iraqi people.
‘If they don’t pull out now, more troops are going to die.’