Former prime minister accused of ‘not facing up to facts’ as he gives evidence to Chilcot inquiry
The families of British military personnel killed in Iraq condemned Tony Blair’s performance before the Chilcot inquiry today, accusing him of being disrespectful.
One, Theresea Evans, asked the former prime minister to look her in the eye and say sorry for the loss of her son.
Evans, from Llandudno, North Wales – whose 24-year-old son, Llywelyn, died in a Chinook helicopter crash in 2003 – said: “I would simply like Tony Blair to look me in the eye and say he was sorry. Instead, he is in there smirking.”
Anne Donnachie, from Reading, Berkshire, whose 18-year-old son, Paul, was killed by a sniper in 2006, said she blamed Blair for his death.
“From what I have heard this morning, he is just denying everything,” she said. “He will just not face up to the facts. I believe he made a massive mistake when he sent my son to Iraq.”
Sarah Chapman, from Cambridge, whose brother, Sergeant Bob O’Connor, died five years ago, said it would be better if Blair was facing the families rather than sitting with his back to them as witnesses are required to do.
“He is being very adamant about his views, as we expected, but it is clear he did not share all the papers before the invasion with the rest of his cabinet,” she said.
“I am disgusted by that. It is obvious he acted alone.”
Anti-war protesters outside the inquiry were denied a chance to direct their chants at the former prime minister in person when he used a side entrance to make his way into the inquiry.
When he began giving evidence inside the QEII Centre in Westminster, a building fortified with steel barriers and lines of police, campaigners stopped their chants of “war criminal”, turned their backs and began listening as the names of civilians and military personnel killed in the conflict were read out.
The crowds dissipated at the end of the morning, but numbers were expected to build again towards the end of the afternoon when the session ends and Blair leaves the inquiry.
For many, today will be the last in a line of protests against the Iraq war which began when up to two million people took to the streets to march against the invasion almost seven years ago.
“He [Blair] does not have the integrity to come and face the people,” Lindsey German, the convener of the Stop the War Coalition, said. “Sliding in by a back door entrance is typical of his lies, deceit and evasion.”