Chilcot report: Families of Iraq War dead lead calls for Tony Blair to be prosecuted

Families and MPs among those calling for Mr Blair to face legal action

Adam Lusher
Thursday 07 July 2016 09:33
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Families on Chilcot Inquiry

The father of a soldier who died in Iraq has issued a stinging rebuke to Tony Blair amid calls for the former prime minister to face legal action over the invasion.

Roger Bacon, whose son Matthew was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra in 2005, said he had listened in amazement as Mr Blair delivered a 6,000-word statement in response to the Chilcot Report.

“I listened,” said Mr Bacon, “And I listened, and listened and listened as he went on and on and on.

“I began to feel that actually what was happening was that I was hearing Iraq Report Mark II – one that was completely different to the report Sir John Chilcot has just published.”

“I was amazed really,” added Mr Bacon, a former police officer. “I knew he was going to make a statement, but then he started going into such forensic detail, disappearing down the road of what was happening now and what was happening in the future. It was as if he was writing Iraq Report II. It was one huge justification for his actions.”

Earlier Mr Bacon had revealed that he and other bereaved relatives were considering legal action against the former Prime Minister, at a press conference where the sister of one dead soldier called Mr Blair “the world’s worst terrorist”.

The shadow Commons leader Paul Flynn said the Iraq Inquiry's findings amounted to an "utter condemnation" of Mr Blair's "terrible" decision to commit British troops to the US-led invasion and prosecution of the former statesman should be given "serious consideration".

Major Matthew Bacon

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said he would like to see Mr Blair investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a crime of aggression and face parliamentary action to stop him holding public office again.

And a former director of public prosecutions said the report indicated Mr Blair could face charges of misconduct in public office.

Lord Macdonald of River Glaven said it "seemed very likely" Mr Blair has "roundly abused" the trust placed in him by the public and that he had twisted the evidence that provided the justification ffor going to war.

After listening to Mr Blair, Mr Bacon laughed out loud at the ex-Prime Minister’s insistence that the Chilcot Report stated that Parliament and Cabinet had not been misled.

He directed Mr Blair to Sir John’s statement that: “We have also concluded that the judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - WMD - were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”

Roger and Maureen Bacon

Mr Bacon, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work helping other bereaved service families, said: “We were misled and the report effectively says so in black and white.”

Mr Bacon added that without studying the report in detail, he could not say whether Mr Blair lied outright, “But quite clearly he certainly misled us into believing that this [the Iraq war] was for a just and right cause.

“It’s a bit naïve to think we weren’t. It’s not as if it was just one or two people who don’t understand how the world works – we have got prominent people in the Establishment who agree they were misled.”

He added that despite Mr Blair’s “strident” tone in the press conference, he now struck rather a pitiful figure.

“He’s lost,” Mr Bacon said. “He doesn’t seem to know where he is at. Does anybody take him seriously? The impression you get is that he is a bit of a lost soul.

“He knows things aren’t right, but he’s got to justify his actions and make it appear that he was right and everyone else was wrong.”

Mr Blair’s press conference performance came after Mr Bacon’s wife Maureen had predicted to The Independent: “I am sure he [Mr Blair] will be well rehearsed again when the report comes out.”

The retired primary school teacher had added that Mr Blair “Will be able to go back to his family, but 179 families will live the rest of their lives without their sons or daughters. And then there are all those who were injured, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died. And after all this time, Iraq is still in a dreadful state.”

Stressing how much she grieved for her “always smiling, always joking son”, Mrs Bacon had added: “It doesn’t get better. It gets worse. You don’t get over it. It doesn’t work that way when you have lost your child.”

Last March, Mr and Mrs Bacon had travelled to Iraq, to the spot where their son was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Rejecting Mr Blair’s insistence that he would “never, ever accept that those troops who got injured or gave their lives did so in vain,” Mr Bacon said: “Having been on the ground, meeting people out there and seeing something of it, all I can say is that I do not think that what occurred in Iraq was worthwhile.

“Do I feel that Matthew lost his life in a worthwhile cause? The answer is no.”

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