‘BLAIR MUST BE PUNISHED’ – Military families serve notice on Downing Street

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‘I HOPE this gets Tony Blair punished for all his war crimes, for the death of our sons and all those Iraqis,’ Rose Gentle told News Line yesterday.

She was speaking before delivering legal notice to Tony Blair from Military Families Against The War to demand an ‘independent and effective public inquiry’ into the basis for the military action which has led to the deaths of British servicemen during the Iraq war and occupation.

The legal action is being submitted by Public Interest Lawyers on behalf of Reg and Sally Keys, Rose and George Gentle, Theresa and Tony Hamilton-Jewell, Anna Aston and Peter Brierley, John and Marilyn Miller, George and Ann Lawrence, Tracey Pritchard, Patricia Long and Sharon Hehir. They are relatives of members of the UK armed forces who lost their lives in the war. Rose Gentle’s son Gordon died in Iraq in June 2004 in a bomb blast.

At a press conference before handing in a letter to Downing Street notifying Blair of their intended action,Chris Nineham, the organiser for Military Families Against The War, said: ‘Ten families are bringing this action. We believe many more families will join the action. We are applying for a judicial review if the government doesn’t hold an independent inquiry in a matter of 14 days.’

The letter on behalf of the bereaved families states: ‘Our clients are demanding that you direct that a fully independent public inquiry is set up into the deaths of their loved ones that thoroughly investigates the legality of the war against Iraq and examines whether you and your government misled their loved ones and themselves about the basis on which the United Kingdom entered Iraq, and action which led to the loss of the lives of their relatives.’

Phil Shiner, for Public Interest Lawyers, said: ‘My clients believed their sons went to war to remove weapons of mass destruction. We now know Tony Blair had committed himself to regime change in 2002.’

Tony Hamilton-Jewell, the brother of Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, one of the military policemen killed in southern Iraq on June 24, 2003, told the press conference: ‘Tony Blair: I’ll see you in court. The man lied the other day again,’ said Hamilton-Jewell, accusing Blair of ‘covering up for himself and his Cabinet’ over the Iraq war. We have to look after our children. We have to secure their safety,’ he added. ‘If there are events taking our children to war, they have to be safe.’

Peter Brierley, the father of Lance-Corporal Shaun Brierley, who was killed in a road traffic accident in Kuwait, said: ‘My son died on March 30, 2003. I believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But this was not the case. Tony Blair sent my son to his death unnecessarily. My son should never have been there.’

Tony Hamilton-Jewell said in answer to questions from reporters: ‘Mr Blair didn’t tell us he wanted to remove Saddam.’

Peter Brierley said of Blair’s justification for the war, that the world is a better place without Saddam: ‘I don’t believe the end justifies the means. If the war was illegal, then getting rid of Saddam Hussein doesn’t justify it. It can’t compensate for the loss of my son. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein is not a good outcome.’