After the findings of the Chilcot report, families of British soldiers look to fund legal support
SOME of the families of British soldiers killed during the Iraq war have launched a public crowdfunding appeal to help pay for lawyers to sue those responsible such as former prime minister Tony Blair.
The US-UK led invasion of Iraq, which lasted from 2003 to 2011, saw 179 British soldiers killed in action and up to 500,000 Iraqis from the resulting insurgency and sectarian conflict.
The families have set up the Iraq War Families Campaign Group which has the aim of raising £150,000 to fund legal work, including combing through the 12-volume Chilcot report on the Iraq war inquiry.
The group has said that this may be the only chance for a full legal overview of the Chilcot report and the chance to hold those responsible to account.
Roger Bacon, whose son Matthew died in Iraq, said: "We must now ensure that every iota of the report is analysed in depth to determine whether there are potential civil legal cases. And we need the British public to help."
"UK military commanders made over-optimistic assessments of their capabilities which had led to bad decisions." Sir John Chilcot
The Chilcot report, published on 6 July, looked at the involvement of the UK in the run up to and during the invasion.
The report was not constituted to make any findings on whether individuals acted unlawfully, but it rejected the legal basis for UK military action stating, it was "far from satisfactory."
Want a reminder of the key aspects of the Chilcot report? Click here
The families and their legal teams drew focus to the areas of the report where Sir John Chilcot, the ex-civil servant who chaired the inquiry, claimed poor preparation had been made.
In the report he highlighted an array of errors in political and military decision-making, in which he said: "UK military commanders made over-optimistic assessments of their capabilities which had led to bad decisions."
He also addressed the issue of poor provision for the British troops who were sent to Iraq.
He said: "The risks were neither properly identified nor fully exposed to ministers, resulting in equipment shortfalls."
"If they can, the families are determined to hold those individuals to account by bringing them to trial to answer for their actions." Matthew Jury
Roger Bacon’s son, Matthew, was killed when his Land Rover was hit by a roadside bomb in Basra, southern Iraq in 2005.
He is one of the group of 29 families involved in the campaign, who told the BBC that the group was determined to find answers and that the Chilcot report had stiffened their resolve.
The families said on the crowdfunding page that they wish "to hold state officials to account, to ensure such a tragedy with such far-reaching and long-term consequences both for Britain and the world, never happens again".
"We must now ensure that every iota of the report is analysed in depth to determine whether there are potential civil legal cases. And we need the British public to help." Roger Bacon
Matthew Jury, a lawyer working with the families and from the collective families' lawyers McCue and Partners, said: "The report told us what went wrong and who was responsible but it was not a court of law."
"If they can, the families are determined to hold those individuals to account by bringing them to trial to answer for their actions."
"Not just for them or their loved ones, but to ensure that never again will our politicians act with such impunity in taking our country into an unjust war with such tragic consequences."
The Iraq War Families Campaign Group said it hoped to raise enough money to pay for preliminary stage of legal work to help build a case.
Then it will look to apply for legal aid to take the case to a full trial. The crowdfunding appeal is open to anyone, not just the British public.
Picture courtesy of David Axe
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