You have blood on your hands, Blair told

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The Independent Online

The former Prime Minister Tony Blair was told today he had "blood on his hands" by a bereaved father at a reception following a memorial service for those killed in Iraq.

Peter Brierley, whose son Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, 28, was killed in March 2003, refused to shake Mr Blair's proffered hand and said: "I'm not shaking your hand, you've got blood on it."

The former prime minister was ushered away and afterwards Mr Brierley, from Batley, West Yorkshire, said: "I understand soldiers go to war and die but they have to go to war for a good reason and be properly equipped to fight."

He added: "I believe Tony Blair is a war criminal. I can't bear to be in the same room as him. I can't believe he's been allowed to come to this reception.

"I believe he's got the blood of my son and all of the other men and women who died out there on his hands.

"It comes back to me every day, every time I see a coffin come off a plane; it reminds me of what happened to Shaun."

The reception at Guildhall, in London, was also attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William.

The royals mingled with military personnel and their families and the young prince laughed and posed for photos with eager veterans.

Lance Corporal of Horse James Shaw, 28, of the Household Cavalry in Windsor, was pleased to see Prince William again after training at the same base.

He said: "When we got here, we realised what a momentous occasion it was.

"We've lost a couple of lads out there and it was nice to think of them."

L/Cpl Shaw, from Windsor, completed three tours of Iraq, returning for the final time in November 2007.

He said: "You want to keep these people alive in your memory."

The Prince, dressed in RAF flight lieutenant uniform number ones with medals and a garter sash, also met Spr Stephen Wilby, of 39 Engineer Regiment, based out of Waterbeach near Cambridge.

Spr Wilby, 24, from Chorley, Lancashire, returned from his tour in Iraq in August last year.

He said: "I feel proud to be here today. It was a nice tribute to those that are lost. It was surreal to meet Prince William - it's not every day you get to meet the future king."

Addressing another group of veterans, William said: "I think what's important about today is not only remembering the sacrifices of those who lost their lives or were injured but also paying tribute to the families of those soldiers who are still serving.

"Without them they couldn't do the job that they do."

Private Craig Fletcher, 22, of the Royal Logistic Corps 2LSR, based out of Gutersloh, in Germany, originally from Liverpool, said: "We had a little laugh with him. He had plenty of time for us.

"I see him as one of the boys as well as a prince. It felt like we had a bit of banter."

When a photo taken of Pt Fletcher, the Prince and his friends did not turn out right, the royal said That's just me, I'm just blurry" and happily posed for a second time.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall met other veterans at the reception and were pleased to meet a group of chefs.

Staff Sgt Steve Firth, 36, of the 7 Para RHA from Doncaster, based in Colchester, spoke to the Prince about his culinary interests.

Staff Sgt Firth said: "The Prince talked to me about solar-powered cooking and the Duchess of Cornwall was telling me about how much of a foodie her son is."

Also in his group was Corporal Chris Small, 37, of 9 Para Squadron RE, based out of Colchester.

Cpl Small, of Woodbridge, Suffolk, said: "Today was touching, I lost two friends in Iraq and when the wife of one of my friends lit a candle during the service, it really hit me but it was a great tribute and it was everything I hoped for."

Kellie Merritt, 40, who flew from Canberra, Australia, with her son Jackson, 10, and daughters India, six, and Jordie, 12, attended the St Paul's service to remember her husband, Australian Paul Pardoel, an RAF navigator in 47 Squadron.

After the service, she said: "Having travelled from Australia, the royal commemorative service was a dignified and fitting tribute to all who fell in Iraq.

"Attending St Paul's today meant a huge amount to me and my children.

"It was a fitting memory of Paul and we hope for the stability for the Iraqi people."