Widow of Iraq soldier demands an apology

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Indy Politics

The widow of the first British soldier to be killed in the Iraq war demanded Geoff Hoon resign yesterday for failing to supply the body armour which would have saved his life. Samantha Roberts accused the Secretary of State for Defence of lying because he told MPs that troops were supplied with proper protection before they went into battle.

Mrs Roberts' sergeant husband Steven, 33, was shot dead in March during a riot in Zubayr, south-west of Basra. He had been issued with life-saving body armour but was ordered to give it up because his regiment was short of equipment.

Yesterday Mr Hoon was attacked by MPs in the Commons after the Conservatives called on him to resign over shortfalls in supplies for British troops.

Mrs Roberts, who watched the debate at the House, said she felt insulted by his replies. Mrs Roberts demanded a public apology and said she was still seeking a face-to-face meeting with Mr Hoon to examine the circumstances of her husband's death. She said: "It is utterly appalling and shocking. I can't believe that he can stand there and lie like he did, saying all the equipment got there. I don't feel he has the respect of anybody any more, certainly not me. I doubt very much he has the respect of officers in the Armed Forces as well."

In the Opposition Day debate on equipment shortages in Iraq, Mr Hoon insisted that battlefield commanders had not complained of equipment shortfalls. He said: "They had declared full operational capability to the MoD before operations commenced."