Blair misled us all, says widow of commando

Lianne Seymour, whose husband was killed in the war, accuses the PM of a breach of trust
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Indy Politics

The widow of a British commando killed in the Iraq war has accused Tony Blair of "deceiving" her husband with misleading claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Lianne Seymour lost her husband Ian, 27, a Royal Navy communications mechanic, in a helicopter crash in Kuwait hours after the war began. She has been left to raise their son Beck, three, on her own.

Now, following the growing controversy over Iraq's "missing" arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Mrs Seymour has become convinced that the war was unjustified.

Thousands of servicemen and women will share her growing sense of personal betrayal, she claimed - and feel doubly suspicious about the next call to go to war.

The "contradictions and deceiving" by Mr Blair "disables our servicemen and women, and it must make them uneasy for future possible conflicts", she said.

"I do feel that we were misled by Mr Blair in justifying this war. I don't think it was the right time or the right way of doing things, but the result now is that Saddam isn't in command in Iraq any more.

"Let's just be hopeful that we've made this world a better place for the Iraqis at least [but] I don't think it's right that Mr Blair should mislead us and our servicemen. After all, they're the ones who are brave enough to go out there and do the job. He should at least be honest about his reasons and take warning from this that everybody was opposed to it before."

Her husband - who, after 11 years' service in the Navy, was applying for a permanent transfer to the Royal Marines - had left for war confident it was justified. "His words to my son were that he's going to make this world a better place for other little boys and girls," she said.

Her bitterness has been amplified by a series of blunders by the Ministry of Defence and US forces after Mr Seymour was killed on 21 March, along with seven other men from 3 Commando Brigade and four US troops in the Sea Knight helicopter crash.

Soon after the crash, the Navy asked Mrs Seymour to return £400 in pay covering 10 days from the date of her husband's death. Initially, Mr Blair claimed her revelation was untrue under questioning in the Commons - a denial Downing Street later retracted. At the same time, she was given three months' notice to quit their married quarters at a Royal Navy camp in Poole, Dorset.

Faced with public outrage, both requests were quickly withdrawn by the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon. The Navy has promised Mrs Seymour will be given ample time to find a new home, although she claims that she is getting little practical help to do so.

Finally, to Mrs Seymour's horror, it emerged last month that her husband's body had been incomplete when it was cremated with full military honours in April. The local coroner told her that other body parts were in another coffin in Britain and a "major limb" had been shipped to the US. She flew to the US to reclaim those remains last month, and still fears further remains may be missing.

The worst offence, Mrs Seymour argues, is that the Government is guilty of a breach of trust - the implied contract that soldiers fight just wars and die for good reasons.

"Servicemen aren't allowed to have opinions or principles on whether things are right or wrong," she said. "They have to put their whole faith and trust in the people who are sending them there."

She is also unhappy about the size of the £26,000 sum received after her husband's death, and the £6,700 taxable war widow's pension she now gets. Other wives left widowed at the naval base feel equally upset. "We're all traumatised by what's happened," she said. "They all feel let down by the treatment we've received.

"For the sake of what they've given us, they might as well not have bothered. It's impossible that we can rebuild our lives on what they've decided to award us. It's not an award. It's an insult."

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