Paul Bigley: Straw took advantage of my attempt at forgiveness

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The Independent Online

The news that Douglas Wood, an Australian contractor, was taken hostage brought back memories of my brother, Ken Bigley, who was held captive and killed.

The news that Douglas Wood, an Australian contractor, was taken hostage brought back memories of my brother, Ken Bigley, who was held captive and killed.

My advice to Mr Wood's family is not to accept the Foreign Office advice to remain silent.

I feel let down by so-called British diplomacy. We have still not been given the small comfort of knowing where Ken's body is buried. It is not something I would ever wish upon another family.

My whole family is disgusted and disillusioned by the failure of the British authorities to help in our six-month ordeal to recover my brother's body.

I felt dutybound to speak out about the fate of my brother, but at his memorial service at Liverpool Cathedral I thanked the Prime Minister for coming. I told him I had no personal grudge against him, and considered him a gentleman. It was his handling of the Iraq issue that I was against.

Tony Blair replied: "I understand, it's quite all right Paul."

I also thanked Jack Straw for attending and apologised if I had offended him in any way personally. If in the heat of the moment in my bid to save my brother's life I had said something on a personal level, then I was sorry.

Jack Straw replied: "Not at all, no offence taken." He then pulled me aside and whispered: "Oh by the way Paul, you have a rapport and good connections with the media. Do you think the next time you are on air you could mention this fact, reiterate it, you know apologise, because Mr Blair is rather concerned about his re-election chances."

He wanted me to say in public that I was sorry; I couldn't believe it; I was being humble, having taken the message of forgiveness to heart and here a politician appeared to be taking immediate advantage.

I was flabbergasted. I had offered him the hand of friendship and he had bitten it, and in a cathedral of all places. Well I am going public now.

There are a lot of people in Liverpool who are angry at having been lied to by this Government. They know that one of their own died because we went to war on a lie.

I just hope the British people, when they vote, will remember Ken and all the soldiers who have died because of this Government's ill-judged war. And that is why I will be supporting Reg Keys, the father of a brave soldier killed in Iraq, who is standing in Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency.

I urge everyone who has lost loved ones in Iraq to ensure that Mr Blair is not re-elected. A man who made such gravely impaired decisions should not be allowed to run the country.

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