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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Red cap father wants Blair debate
Reg Keys
Reg Keys hands in a letter asking for a war debate with Tony Blair
The father of a soldier killed in Iraq has accused Labour leader Tony Blair of "running scared" from a public debate with him on the war.

Reg Keys, 52, who is standing as an independent against Mr Blair in Sedgefield wants to meet face to face.

Mr Keys' son, Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from north Wales, was one of six Red Caps killed by a mob in June 2003.

Mr Blair's agent, John Burton, said finding time for a debate would be difficult during the election campaign.

Mr Keys' letter said: "Eighty-five British soldiers have returned home in coffins, hundreds are severely wounded and mentally traumatised.

"And all this was based on false information for which nobody has been made accountable including Blair."

Mr Keys spent 30 minutes on Wednesday inside Mr Blair's home with Mr Burton, who said he would pass the letter on.

Uphill task

Mr Burton said: "I don't think Tony is the type to be scared of any debate, it's just whether a debate can be fixed into a national timetable.

"Tony has always told the truth in this, and knowing him so well, I believe him perfectly."

Mr Keys, founder member of campaign group Military Families Against the War, faces an uphill task to unseat Mr Blair, who had a majority of more than 17,000 at the last election.

Mr Keys added: "I would like to think it would happen but I feel Tony Blair will be running scared of this interview."

Other candidates for Sedgefield include Robert Browne (Liberal Democrats); Jonathan Cockburn (independent); Al Lockwood, (Conservative); and David Shayler, (independent).