Mother of soldier killed in Iraq protests after MoD blocks pension

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The mother of a teenage soldier killed in Iraq has condemned the Ministry of Defence after it ruled that he did not qualify for a pension.

The mother of a teenage soldier killed in Iraq has condemned the Ministry of Defence after it ruled that he did not qualify for a pension.

Rose Gentle also called on the Prime Minister to withdraw British troops from Iraq and bring them home for Christmas as she announced an anti-war demonstration would be held later this month.

Private Gordon Gentle, 19, from the Pollok area of Glasgow, was serving with the Royal Highland Fusiliers when he was killed in a roadside blast in Basra on 28 June. But Mrs Gentle, 40, said she could not believe her son sacrificed his life but did not qualify for a pension.

"We got a pamphlet a few weeks ago about Gordon's insurance and it said that because he had only been in so long he was not entitled to a pension," she said. "If he was not entitled to a pension, why was he sent to war? It is not about money ­ it is the principle. I don't understand why he can get killed in a war but he does not qualify for a pension."

Mrs Gentle said she now intended to pursue the matter with the MoD.

Looking ahead to the demonstration to be held in Pollok on 30 October, she said: "We are hoping for a big turn-out. We have got to get the troops home for Christmas. They should all be brought home. The boys do not want to be there."

Mrs Gentle was joined at the press conference by her 14-year-old daughter Maxine, the leader of the Scottish Socialists, Tommy Sheridan, and the North Pollok community council leader George McNeilage.

Mrs Gentle invited the Prime Minister to attend the demonstration in Pollok to listen to the views of the community. "He is getting a chance to send more innocent people to be killed. The people who back him, none of them have sons or daughters in the forces.

"Tony Blair can come to Pollok for the demonstration but he thinks we are just working-class people who should shut up."

A spokesman for the MoD said: "Private Gentle did not qualify for a pension because he was single and did not have any dependants. As such, his estate was entitled to a lump sum."

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