Families await delivery of Chilcot report into Iraq war

The families of South Tyneside servicemen and women killed during tours of duty are awaiting the outcome of the inquiry into the Iraq war.

Tuesday, 5th July 2016, 3:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:45 pm
Corporal Paul Long's mother Pat.

The Chilcot Report has been seven years in the making and is due to be published at 11am tomorrow.

Among the loved ones of those claimed by the conflict is Pat Long, whose son Corporal Paul Long was killed in 2003.

The 24-year-old and five other Royal Military Police (RMP) had been sent to a police station in Majar-al-Kabir in south east Iraq, to meet officers they had been tasked to develop.

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But the station was surrounded and attacked and all six redcaps were killed.

The Chilcot report was set up in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to examine the lead up to the invasion from summer 2001 to the withdrawal of the main body of British troops earlier that year.

The document, which was due to be published quickly but has faced a series of delays, will run to 2.6 million words contained in 12 volumes.

Pat, who lives in Salem Street, Jarrow, is preparing to take delivery of her copy on Friday and is steeling herself to find out what it says about the actions of Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time the war began.

It has been suggested by SNP MP Alex Salmond that the internal coup in the Labour party against Jeremy Corbyn is linked to his previous comment that he would be prepared for anyone found guilty of war crimes to face trial.

The 64-year-old will not be travelling to London for a briefing, but instead follow news coverage of the report as details are uncovered through the documents.

She said: “It never goes away.

“People say ‘It must bring things back’ but it’s always there, the pain will always be there.

“I hope that Blair gets done and I’m hoping he gets done for war crimes.

“I wouldn’t say he was a liar, but I would say he is a stranger to the truth.

“I want to see if what Alex Salmond said is true because I agree with what I heard from him.

“Tony Blair has already seen this report.

“Why weren’t we allowed to see it, they were our kids?

“I want to see what it says about my son.

“I think about him every day. Time doesn’t heal.

“This has taken them seven years and I could have told them what they need to know 12 years ago.”

Elsie Manning, from South Shields, also lost her daughter Staff Sgt Sharron Elliott, 34, when her boat was blown up near Basra in November 2006.

The mothers and other families previously faced a £767 charge for the report, before Downing Street said they would not have to cover the cost.