“WHEN I look at Iraq on my TV screens today, the 200 plus deaths that took place the other day, I can only conclude, unfortunately and sadly, that my son died in vain.”
Those are the words of Reg Keys, whose son Tom was killed in a hail of bullets by an Iraqi mob just days before his 21st birthday, following the release of the long-awaited Chilcot Iraq Inquiry.
Parents of ‘murdered’ soldiers, including Mr Keys from Hollywood, held an emotional press conference yesterday morning (Wednesday) to react to the report by Sir John Chilcot.
The report, which has been seven years in the making and cost an estimated £10million, declares that:
* British forces were committed to invading Iraq ‘before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted’.
* The legal basis for military action was ‘far from satisfactory’ and the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction ‘were presented with a certainty that was not justified’ by Tony Blair’s government.
* The invasion was based on ‘flawed intelligence’ which was not challenged, but ‘should have been’.
* Mr Blair was also warned that military action in Iraq would increase the threat of al Qaeda to the UK.
The press conference included a statement on behalf of all the families.
They said: “Never again must so many mistakes be allowed to sacrifice the British lives that lead to the destruction of a country with no positive end.
“We must use this report to make sure that all parts of the Iraq war fiasco must never again be repeated – neither in the theatre of war, nor the theatre of Whitehall.
“We call on the British government to follow up Sir John’s findings to be sure that the political process to decide if our country goes to war is never again twisted and abused with no liability for such actions.
“For the honour and memory of our loved ones, we have encouraged this report since the end of the British engagement in Iraq.
“We trust all parties will learn their lessons.”
Mr Keys said Sir John Chilcot had done a thoroughly good job, had done the families proud and that the report was well worth the wait.
He added: “Now we have had the endorsement of a thorough, robust, inquiry, which has endorsed all our the family’s fears that these young men and women were deployed on the basis of a falsehood it has given us a launchpad to go forward and search for yet more answers.
“We believe there was a massaging of intelligence reports and that those responsible need to be brought to account.”
The former paramedic, whose wife Sally died after ‘giving up the will to live’ in the wake of Tom’s death, has been demanding answers from Tony Blair ever since that fateful day in 2003.
He even stood against him in the General Election, claiming Mr Blair sent his son to death in an illegal war.
In a statement following the publication of the Inquiry, Mr Blair said: “The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit.
“Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein, I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.
“I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse.
“I will at the same time say why I believe it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today.
“Above all I will pay tribute to our Armed Forces.
“I will express my profound regret at the loss of life and the grief it has caused the families, and I will set out the lessons I believe future leaders can learn from my experience.”