Sheffield dad's fears over damning Chilcot findings
A Sheffield dad whose son died in the Iraq war has said he fears the damning Chilcot report will prevent the country from intervening to stop other dictators like Saddam Hussein in future.
Bill Stewardson, from Woodhouse Mill, lost his son, Kingsman Alex Green, in January 2007 when the 21-year-old was fatally shot when escorting a convoy in Basra.
Mr Stewardson said while Chilcot has made clear mistakes had been made in relation to the war, his son had been convinced of the moral case for the invasion.
He said the findings of Chilcot may put British politicians off future military action even when there is a case for it.
“I have deep misgivings the UK will ever put its hand up again to help people out. It is a shame Britain is losing its place on the world stage and its honour and integrity.”
He said his son understood the risks of going to war and was proud to be serving in Iraq.
Mr Stewardson said: “He detested bullying. If he saw someone in a mess in the street, he would go over and offer his help.
“He was a knockabout kid from a council estate up north.
“We discussed the morality of being out in Iraq. The last time I saw him in October 2006, he saw it as right to be there. People were getting butchered and buried and gassed.
“He knew the risks, he wasn’t thick.”
He said: “Nobody knows what Iraq would have been left if we had left those people to Hussein.
“Blair has been misled, been too close to Bush, been easily controlled. 179 British service personnel and hundreds of thousands of civilians paid with their lives. But that needs to be set against what Iraq would have been like now if we hadn’t acted.
“I feel appalled this country no longer possesses the ability to stand proud and say we will not allow global bullying and terrorism and we will get off our backsides and go and put a stop to it.
“Al was going out there to assist a population that was being gassed and butchered. He understood that - that is what it was about.”
Alex was among 179 British service personnel who died in Iraq, as well as Doncaster father-of-three Corporal Richard Thomas David Ivell.
His comments came after the long-awaited official report by Sir John Chilcot, delivered a scathing verdict on the Blair-led government’s justification and planning for military intervention in 2003.
Mr Blair accepted responsibility for mistakes but said decisions were taken in ‘good faith’.
Sir John’s report found the case for war was presented with ‘a certainty which was not justified’, was based on ‘flawed’ intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein had posed ‘no imminent threat’ at the time of the invasion.
Mr Stewardson said Chilcot’s conclusions had ‘completely surprised a lot of people in its thoroughness and directness’.
He said it was clear lessons should be learnt from the mistakes of the invasion, but added it should not all be blamed on Tony Blair.
“It wasn’t just Tony Blair, the whole of Parliament supported it. There was a long chain of experts who provided intelligence, people who flew over to America.
“Things could have been done a lot better and Mr Blair did not carry out his duties effectively. He has got to live with that and I’m sure there will be ramifications for a long time.”
Mr Stewardson said soldiers such as his son should not be blamed for the failures in planning and preparation for the invasion and its aftermath.
He said: “I can’t say Al was stabbed in the back, I just wonder if his death has been somewhat diminished by the bungling down marble halls somewhere.
“Their deaths were honourable, they took the risks on behalf of someone else.
“It is not their fault Iraq is in the mess it currently is. They were doing their best in very trying circumstances.
“Such brave young men, such honourable young people ought to be viewed better than they currently are. A lot of middle-aged people have a dim view of today’s youth - they should consider how many of our soldiers are young people.”
His comments came as a South Yorkshire soldier who lost both of his legs in a suicide bomb blast in Iraq said officials need to be held accountable for the mistakes of the war.
Former sergeant Mick Brennan, aged 36, said: “I don’t think families have got the justice they were hoping for, I’m glad Tony Blair has been held accountable for certain aspects but more work still needs to be done to fully get to the bottom of it.
“It’s not clear cut, there were others beneath Blair that obviously made mistakes and need to be held accountable too.
“Families will be extremely angry about the mistakes highlighted in this report but I think they will want further questions answering and action to be taken.
“It makes no difference to me if Tony Blair is sitting in a jail cell as it won’t bring back those that lost their lives or help those that were injured but families will feel like some kind of justice needs to be done.”
Mr Brennan says he is continuing his fight for as much as £500,000 in compensation because his injuries were sustained five months before rules were changed.
Mr Brennan, who went on to become a successful Paralympian representing Great Britain in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi in 2014, says he is determined to get what he is entitled to.
He said: “I don’t think this report has made my fight for compensation any easier.
“The fact that £10 million has been spent on the report is upsetting when you think there’s still soldiers being denied compensation they are entitled too.”