Mother of murdered South Shields Redcap welcomes report date

The mother of murdered Redcap Corporal Paul Long has tentatively welcomed news a date has been set for the publication of the long-awaited inquiry into the Iraq war.
Pat Long says she is reserving judgement until the Chilcot report is publishedPat Long says she is reserving judgement until the Chilcot report is published
Pat Long says she is reserving judgement until the Chilcot report is published

Pat Long's world was turned upside when son Cpl Long was killed during a tour of duty in Iraq in 2003.

He 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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However, the station was surrounded and attacked and all six redcaps were killed.

For years, Mrs Long has waited for the publication of a report into the war which claimed the life of her 24-year-old son.

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.

A date of Wednesday July 6 has now been set for publication.

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But while Mrs Long, from Salem Street, Jarrow, has welcomed the news, she says she will reserve judgement until it is finally released.

She said: "We have been given dates before and nothing has come of them. So I will wait to see if, on July 6, the report is published.

"But to be honest, it's too late for my boy or for any of other people killed as a result of the Iraq war.

"In my mind this war was not legal and people should be held accountable for their actions as we, as families, are serving a life sentence.

"This should have been done seven years ago.

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"Everyday, I have to live with knowing my son was killed in a war I don't believe was legal. The pain I feel inside never goes away, so this doesn't bring it all back, because it's there constantly.

"My family has never been the same since."

The date was set following an agreement by the Prime Minister and the report's author, Sir John Chilcot, after security checks on on the 2.6m word report were completed.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Sir John said: "National security checking of the Inquiry's report has now been completed, without the need for any redactions to appear in the text. I am grateful for the speed with which it was accomplished."

He added: "This will allow suitable time for the Inquiry to prepare the 2.6 million word report for publication, including final proof reading, formatting, printing and the steps required for electronic publication."

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Mr Cameron told the Inquiry head last November that he was "disappointed'' about the length of time it was taking to release the findings and urged him to ''expedite'' the final stages. Its publication will come 1,981 days after the inquiry ended.

Conservative former frontbencher David Davis last month claimed that lives had "probably'' been lost as a result of the delays because Britain had made recent interventions in Libya, Syria and Iraq without proper knowledge of the controversial 2003 choice to go to war.

Publication was delayed by a process known as Maxwellisation, under which those who may face criticism are given the opportunity to respond before publication.

Tony Blair denied last year that he was responsible for the hold-ups.

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More than 150 witnesses gave evidence to the Inquiry and more than 130 sessions of oral evidence were held.

It has analysed more than 150,000 government documents as well as other material related to the invasion.