Jacqui Janes, whose son was killed in Afghanistan, last night accepted an apology from Gordon Brown over "insulting" mistakes he made in a handwritten letter of condolence. The bereaved mother drew a line under the row when she said she was satisfied with the Prime Minister's sincerity.
She was speaking after an emotional Mr Brown, whose daughter Jennifer died at just 10 days old, insisted he understood the "sadness and anger" of the parents of fallen troops. The Prime Minister said: "I understand very well the sadness that she feels, and the way that she has expressed her grief is something that I can also clearly understand.
"I wanted to say during that conversation with her, but thought I could not really do so because I do not know her, that when there is a personal loss as deep and immediate as she has experienced it takes time to recover. That loss can never be replaced; you have got to take every day at a time."
Mr Brown, speaking as the bodies of six British troops killed in Afghanistan returned to this country, added: "I'm a parent who understands the feelings when something goes terribly, terribly wrong, and I understand also how long it takes for people to handle and deal with the grief we have all experienced."
It emerged yesterday that Mrs Janes had berated the Prime Minister when he telephoned her after the disclosure that he misspelt the name of her son, Jamie, in his letter. She took him to task over the lack of equipment for troops and claimed her son had bled to death because of a shortage of helicopters.
But last night in an interview with ITV News, she said she was happy with his response during his press conference. "He didn't sound apologetic in the phone call – he didn't actually apologise," she said.
"He said sorry an awful lot – sorry that I didn't understand his writing. Today he looked sincere. He looked humbled and he is now going to get a record of my son's death – the day's events. And I hope that he has the sleepless nights that I've had for the past five weeks."
Mrs Janes said she wanted to meet Mr Brown in person at a later date and admitted he had a hard job. "I feel sorry for him. He has got a difficult job, I'm not doubting that," she said. "I do know that he understands the loss of a child but Jamie was my second child. The second child that I buried. I buried a baby at 10 weeks old so he doesn't understand the knowledge of your child bleeding to death through lack of equipment, lack of helicopters.
"Only other mothers whose sons have died in explosions could possibly understand how that feels... I've got nothing against Mr Brown as a person."
Yesterday the Prime Minister defended his Government's provision of medical support and equipment to forces stationed in Afghanistan. And he said he had asked for a full report on the circumstances of Guardsman Janes's death to establish whether Mrs Janes was right that better helicopter capability could have saved his life.
"I am assured that in normal circumstances there is always helicopter capability – we share this with the Americans and we have increased the co-ordination of that in recent times.
"The investment in our on-field healthcare has been massive in recent years. We have some of the best facilities in the world at Camp Bastion. We try then to airlift people to Birmingham Selly Oak as quickly as possible, when it is possible. I will look at all the evidence and information which comes from the circumstances in which Guardsman Janes died."
Mr Brown said: "We have tried to provide the best equipment in the world. We have increased the investment we've made in helicopters, in vehicles and in the equipping of the armed forces in a way that we have never done in our country before. The idea that we are in any way careless or in any way unthinking about the demands and responsibilities we place on our armed forces is completely wrong."
Speaking on the eve of Armistice Day, Mr Brown said it was "a time to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces who in Afghanistan have laid down their lives to ensure our safety and security in Britain".Reuse content