Mother of Iraq victim 'sick' to be in same room

Alan Jones,Press Association
Friday 29 January 2010 16:21
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The mother of a 19-year-old soldier killed in Iraq finally sat a few feet away from Tony Blair today, years after trying to confront the ex-premier - and found herself feeling "sick" with emotion.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in June 2004, managed to get a ticket at the last minute to be in the same room as Mr Blair during his questioning by the Chilcot inquiry.

She was not among the family members of those killed in action originally drawn in a ballot for tickets to see today's session.

But when she arrived at the QEII conference centre in Westminster this morning, she learned that she would be allowed into the same room as Mr Blair after all.

She accused Mr Blair of being "smarmy" and of refusing to acknowledge any of the scores of military families who attended today's hearing.

Mrs Gentle sat a few feet away from the former prime minister and said she was "shaking" after coming so close to him following years of trying to meet him.

Asked how she felt, she replied: "Actually, I felt sick. He seemed to be shaking as well, which I am pleased about - the eyes of all the families were on him.

"He had a smirk on his face which has made the families very angry. He has convinced himself that he was right, but it has emerged today that half the Cabinet were not given all the papers. It makes me so angry.

"He didn't look at any of us - he just sat with his back to us, and has refused to meet us afterwards, which is typical of him.

"I am glad I saw him, but I would have preferred to see his face. I don't think we have learned anything new, and when the inquiry ends there's not much we can do.

"I have been writing to him for years asking for a meeting, and he didn't have the decency to acknowledge us or meet us today to say sorry.

"I will never forgive him and I believe he should stand trial. I will be angry with him for the rest of my life."

Mrs Gentle said there was no heckling from the families during Mr Blair's questioning, although some people made comments such as "yeah, right" after some of his replies.

"I think they should have moved the table so he could have faced the families."

Mrs Gentle's daughter Maxine joined protesters outside the centre. She wrote to Mr Blair as a 14-year-old in August 2004, blaming him for her brother's death and saying she would not shake his hand if she ever met him.

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