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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Blair faces Iraq families' anger
Anthony Wakefield
Anthony Wakefield's widow described him as "very brave".
The wife of the latest British soldier to be killed in Iraq has blamed Tony Blair for his death.

Guardsman Anthony Wakefield, 24, from Newcastle, was killed by a bomb on Monday. His widow, Ann Toward, said Mr Blair should not have sent him to war.

Mr Blair said he understood the widow's grief but defended his war decision.

Relatives of troops killed in Iraq say they intend to take legal action to force a public inquiry into the war. But Tony Blair has ruled that out.

Ten families took a letter to Downing Street saying they would apply for a judicial review if an inquiry was not announced within 14 days.

Earlier, Mr Blair sent his "profound condolences" to Guardsman Wakefield's family.

But when pressed on the issue of a public inquiry, Mr Blair, speaking on Channel 4 news, said: "We have had inquiry after inquiry we do not need to go back over this again and again."

The guardsman's widow Ann Toward with his two sons and stepdaughter
It's Tony Blair's fault. He sent all those troops out.
Ann Toward
Soldier's widow

Conservative leader Michael Howard and Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy both sent their sympathy to the family, but did not blame Mr Blair for his death.

Guardsman Wakefield, from 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards, was the 87th UK soldier to die in the Iraq conflict.

His widow, Ms Toward, said: "It's Tony Blair's fault. He sent all those troops out.

"If he hadn't sent them out [Anthony] would still be here. He shouldn't have done it."

Ms Toward - who was separated from her husband and lives in Newcastle - described him as "bubbly, outgoing, really fun to be with, smiling all the time".

Heartbreaking task

The guardsman's children - sons Scott, seven, and Corey, two - and his stepdaughter Stacy, 11, were distraught at their father's death.

British soldiers have done an extraordinary job in Iraq helping that country become a stable democracy
Tony Blair

She said Scott had talked about his father and was planning to write him a letter telling him he was proud he had died for his country. He told reporters his father had died a hero.

Ms Toward continued: "It's just heartbreaking. Since yesterday, I've cried and stopped crying and cried. It was just so devastating."

She said she had begged her husband not to go to Iraq but he had insisted it was his job.

Inquiry demand

Earlier, Mr Blair again defended the Iraq war, and said: "I've expressed my deep sympathy and condolences to the family.

"I really don't think there's anything I can and should say more than that, and I don't think it's right or appropriate to do so.

I remain very angry with Blair for taking us into the war on Iraq
Gordon, Devon, UK

"As I said yesterday, the British soldiers have done an extraordinary job in Iraq helping that country become a stable democracy.

"I totally understand the grief and distress of people who are bereaved by soldiers that have lost their lives doing their duty for their country".

Lawyers for the troops' relatives who have served notice of their legal case say they have at least a fifty-fifty chance of forcing an inquiry.

Phil Shiner, who has prepared the legal case, said it was important the families secured "closure" over why their loved ones died.


Mr Shiner told a news conference the families, who are being backed by the Stop The War Coalition, were also considering taking private prosecutions against Tony Blair and others for alleged war crimes.

Tony Hamilton-Jewell, whose brother Simon was killed in Iraq, said lessons needed to be learnt for the future.

He had a stark message for Mr Blair, saying: "We will pursue you in or out of office. I'm afraid the man is seeming to be covering up for himself and his government. It's got to be exposed."

Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun died in a road accident in Iraq, said: "If we were lied to and the war was illegal then getting rid of Saddam Hussein is no compensation for losing my son."

But Samantha Roberts, who criticised the government when her husband Steve died when he had no flak jacket, took a different view.

She said: "He [Steve] is quoted as saying 'I take the Queen's shilling therefore I must do my duty' and he was quite happy to do it. I'm sure if you speak to the vast majority of soldiers, servicemen they would say exactly the same.

"Unfortunately, their families are left behind when things go wrong."

The government has repeatedly insisted the war was legal under resolutions dating back to the 1990 Gulf War and argued there have been four inquiries about the war.



Watch the families deliver their letter to Downing Street