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13 Aug, 2015 12:46

Iraq War justice: Families of killed UK soldiers demand immediate publication of Chilcot report

Iraq War justice: Families of killed UK soldiers demand immediate publication of Chilcot report

Families of British troops killed during the Iraq war have launched a legal battle to force Sir John Chilcot to publish the findings of his inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War.

The relatives of deceased servicemen say the delay is “morally reprehensible” and have given the inquiry chairman just two weeks to publish the report before they begin legal action.

Their ultimatum comes after significant delays to publication caused by the so-called “Maxwellization” process, which allows those criticized in the report to respond.

The Chilcot report began in 2009 and last took evidence in 2011. It has cost the taxpayer more than £10 million.

Early this year, Chilcot announced the publication would be pushed back until after the general election for fears it would unfairly disadvantage politicians and parties involved in the invasion.

If the bereaved families are successful in forcing publication, Chilcot may have to reveal sensitive information about communications between the UK and US leaders at the time – Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush – in the run up to the invasion.

At least 29 families have signed the letter to Chilcot, which claims the chairman’s decision not to set out a timetable for publication is “unlawful.”

Roger Bacon, whose son Major Matthew Bacon, 34, died in a roadside bomb blast in Basra 10 years ago, said unless they saw the report published, their deaths would have been in vain.

“We have lost our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, and if we don’t get answers as to why they died, it will all have been a waste of time,” he said. “It is morally reprehensible to keep delaying the publication of the report.

He added: “It is utterly incomprehensible that the inquiry has been going on for six years and it is still not finished.
The families have the support of General Sir Michael Rose, a former SAS commander.

“If justice and fairness is not primarily afforded to those who have been most damaged – in this case the Iraq families as well as the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have been injured – then Chilcot has got it terribly wrong,” Rose said.

Reg Keys, another signatory to the letter, lost his son Lance-Corporal Thomas Keys in Iraq. He said he wanted to “draw a line” under the legacy of the war.

“We want to draw a line under this Iraq War so we can move on, but before that we need to know what it was all for. We want to know why Blair went against the UN and took us into Iraq while other European allies refused to join the war,” he said.

“I need to know what my son died for given that Iraq is now worse than it was before and has become a fermenting ground for terrorism. Sir John doesn’t seem to understand that these are real people that have lost loved ones.

He added Blair should be "dragged in shackles to court as a war criminal".

Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron was less pressing in his calls for publication of the report, merely call on Chilcot to create a timetable for releasing it.