Soldiers’ families say Tony Blair should pay for their copies of Chilcot report

Tony Blair should pay to provide the relatives of British soldiers who died in the Iraq War with a £767 hard copy of the Chilcot report, families of the dead have said.

Rose Gentle, who was visiting the grave of her son, Fusilier Gordon Gentle, when she spoke to the Press Association, said the former prime minister has enough money to shoulder the cost.

And Roger Bacon, whose son Major Matthew Bacon was killed in Iraq in 2005, said Mr Blair "with all his millions" should make a gesture given that families have "paid with our children's lives".

The pair spoke after it emerged that full hard copies of the 2.6 million word, 12-volume report will cost £767 and will not be provided to the families for free.

Herald Scotland:

(Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq inquiry. Picture: PA)

They are invited to attend inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot's public statement when the report is published on July 6, before which they will be able to read an embargoed copy and will be given an executive summary for free.

They can also read a searchable version of the full report online for free.

But Mrs Gentle, from Glasgow, whose son was killed in a bomb attack in Basra in 2004 aged 19, said families should get a free hard copy as well.

She said: "It's disgusting.

"I'm quite upset by that.

"Why should we have to pay – have we not paid enough times with the lives of our sons?

"The families should get a free copy of this, we have paid the cost with their deaths, we have been through the inquests – some families are not going to have that sort of money.

"It's bringing a tear to myself.

"Why doesn't Tony Blair say 'I will pay for it', because he has got enough money."

Mr Bacon said: "It does beggar belief that it is going to cost that amount of money in the first place.

"Who has the money to pay for something like this?

"We as families, not just those in the military, are in the same boat and to expect us to have to cough up that amount of money to read the report…"

He added: "If they find that they cannot afford to give us a copy for free why don't they say to Tony Blair that with all his millions perhaps he might be able to make a gesture and pay for it out of his coffers, bearing in mind we have already paid with our children's lives."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has told the Ministry of Defence to provide free copies to the families on request.

"It is unbelievable that after all these years of waiting, of stalling and uncertainty, we now find out that the families will have to pay for a copy of the report," he said.

"Families who have waited years, mother and fathers who have fought to have this report see the light of day, should not have to pay for this.

"I have written to the Ministry of Defence asking that free copies of the report are made available to the families on request, without them paying out of their own pockets. The Government now needs to provide some form of closure to the victims of this illegal war."

The inquiry was set up in 2009 by then prime minister Gordon Brown after the withdrawal of the main body of British troops earlier that year.

It has examined the lead up to the 2003 invasion, and the years up to that 2009 withdrawal.

The report's long-awaited publication follows 130 sessions of oral evidence and the testimony of more than 150 witnesses.

The inquiry has analysed more than 150,000 government documents as well as other material related to the invasion.



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