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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Families criticise Blair over WMD
Rose Gentle
Rose Gentle said Tony Blair should resign
Families of troops killed in Iraq have continued their criticism of Tony Blair following a report that there were no weapons of mass destruction there.

The Iraq Survey Group found no evidence that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological or nuclear weapons when Iraq was invaded.

Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was killed in June, said the prime minister should resign.

"My son didn't die for his country, he died for a sheer pack of lies."

She told BBC News Online: "I think Tony Blair knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, but he went to war anyway and that's why so many young boys have died.

They were just playing as puppeteers with our soldiers
Tony Hamilton-Jewel
Brother of dead soldier

"He should resign. I think it's a disgrace."

Her views were echoed by the brother of a soldier killed in an ambush in June 2003.

Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell was one of six Red Caps killed on 24 June, 2003 when an angry mob set upon them in Majar el-Kabir, 120 miles north of Basra.

His brother Tony said the ISG report "shows that the war was totally illegal, as [United Nations secretary-general] Kofi Annan has said.

"Bush and Blair know damn well it is illegal as there was no threat to our shores and there was no link to al-Qaeda. They were just playing as puppeteers with our soldiers."

In his opinion, "Bush and Blair are running scared".

"The smile doesn't hide the eyes. The man in charge of this country doesn't act for queen and country, but for himself."

Last year's Stop the War march
Last year hundreds of thousands marched against the war
Stop the War Coalition press officer Andrew Burgin said it was "pleasing" to see that the campaign's stance was right.

"This is an unusual campaign in that everything we've said about war - the reasons, the preparation, the outcome - has proved correct."

He said the weapons of mass destruction issue "was almost a distraction," as a decision to go to war was taken long before they were stated as a reason.

"The WMDs were a real sideshow. The main question remains: why did Blair [decide to go to war] and why are troops still in Iraq?"

Mr Burgin said that even with the "relatively small number" of British troop deaths, totalling 68, Mr Blair faced strong criticism from relatives of killed soldiers.

"The families still say that [Mr Blair] said WMD existed, but my son is now dead. How do you justify that?"

The prime minister reacted defiantly to the report's findings, saying the report showed Saddam "never had any intention of complying with UN resolutions".

He was "doing his best" to get round the UN's sanctions, Mr Blair added.

He welcomed the report because it showed "a far more complicated situation than many people thought".

He added: "And just as I have had to accept that the evidence now is that there were not stockpiles of actual weapons ready to be deployed, I hope others have the honesty to accept that the report also shows that sanctions weren't working."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the report showed Saddam posed a bigger threat than previously imagined.

"The threat from Saddam Hussein in terms of his intentions" was "even starker than we have seen before", Mr Straw added.

"Had we walked away from Iraq and left Iraq to Saddam, Saddam would have indeed built up his capabilities, built up his strength and posed an even greater threat."




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