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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 11:11 GMT
Mothers lose Iraq inquiry battle
Trooper David Clarke (l) and Fusilier Gordon Gentle
Trooper David Clarke and Fusilier Gordon Gentle both died in Iraq
Two mothers have lost a court appeal to force an independent inquiry into the UK's involvement in Iraq.

The mothers of two servicemen who died in Iraq brought the case under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The women, from Staffordshire and Glasgow, argued there was debate about whether the invasion was legal because of equivocal advice given by advisers.

But Court of Appeal judges have ruled in favour of the government stance not to hold an inquiry.

The only question which will not be investigated is the invasion question
Judges' ruling

Fusilier Gordon Gentle, from Glasgow, and Trooper David Clarke, of Littleworth, Staffordshire, were 19 when they were killed.

Their mothers, Rose Gentle and Beverley Clarke, wanted the government to explain how 13 pages of advice from the attorney general on 7 March 2003 about the legality of the war, was changed to one page by 17 March saying an invasion would be legal.

But three appeal judges, in a combined judgment, said on Tuesday: "We have every sympathy for the applicants. The deaths of their sons must be unbearable. However, the deaths will be investigated in detail.

Rose Gentle
It has not been a waste of time - this is my son's life we are talking about
Rose Gentle

"The only question which will not be investigated is the invasion question, namely whether the government took reasonable steps to be satisfied that the invasion of Iraq was lawful under the principles of international law."

The two mothers are now likely to petition the Law Lords for permission to appeal to the House of Lords.

Mrs Gentle said outside court: "I am disappointed, as we have tried just about every avenue in this country.

"If some of the MPs against the war had stood up for us, then it might have been different.

She said she would continue to fight to get answers.

"It has not been a waste of time - this is my son's life we are talking about."

Retrospective inquiry

Chris Nineham, a spokesman for Military Families Against the War, said outside court: "The implication of the ruling is that in matters of war the government is above the law and is not accountable to the people in any way."

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had earlier said it was "entirely reasonable" not to hold a further inquiry as four had already been held.

And QCs appearing for the prime minister, the defence secretary and the attorney general, said at the earlier hearing at the Court of Appeal if that argument was accepted it would mark "a significant, constitutional shift".

The action was also brought by two other parents - Peter Brierley, father of Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, from West Yorkshire, and Susan Smith, mother of Private Phillip Hewett, of Tamworth in Staffordshire.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he had not ruled out a retrospective inquiry.


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