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FAMILIES of soldiers killed in the Iraq war said yesterday they will take legal action against the Chilcot inquiry if it doesn’t publish its report by the end of the year.
Reg Keys, whose 20-year-old son Tom was killed in Iraq in 2003, said Sir John Chilcot did not grasp the families’ feelings.
Twenty-nine families have threatened Mr Chilcot with legal action, believing that the inquiry may have broken a law requiring it to wrap up in good time.
Giving people criticised in the report time to reply — known as “Maxwellisation,” after pensions thief Robert Maxwell — has fuelled serious anger.
Mr Chilcot claimed last month that the inquiry was making “significant progress” but couldn’t say when it would be finished.
Set up in 2009, it has now dragged on for six years.
Mr Keys said that bereaved families need closure and demanded Mr Chilcot publish the report by the end of the year or face court.
He also argued that there is no legal requirement to give those criticised a chance to respond.
“I think what Sir John doesn’t understand is the strength of feeling amongst the bereaved,” Mr Keys said.
“I think what Sir John has to bear in mind now is that we want closure on this, it has to be done fair, it has to be done right.
“But he’s had time enough now and he’s not imposing deadlines on this and that’s where our argument is, we want to give a deadline now, by the end of the year or legal action will be following.”
Former foreign secretary Jack Straw — who alongside Tony Blair is expected to be criticised — claimed that it wasn’t letting witnesses respond that had caused delays.
But Stop the War Coalition spokesman Chris Nineham condemned the “special privileges and in effect protection” Mr Blair and others had received.
“It is an outrage that the report has been so many years in the making and particularly despicable because the delays are clearly due to pressure from those who stand accused of crimes against humanity.
“It is disgraceful that those who face potential criticism are given special dispensation almost to appeal the verdict before it is even published.”
He said the peace group “obviously understands and totally supports” the families’ legal strategy.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament general secretary Kate Hudson also backed the families’ bid, saying: “Most people want this inquiry to identify culpability for war crimes and to lay bare the process by which the UK ended up in a catastrophic and bloody war of aggression.
“CND still believes that Tony Blair should stand trial for his actions. The hundreds of thousands killed in an illegal invasion, and the continuing bloodshed, is what Blair will be remembered for. He must not be allowed to avoid responsibility.”
Speaking recently, Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn said that if Mr Blair is judged to have committed a war crime by carrying out the illegal war he should be tried for it — as with anyone else.
“I want to see all those who committed war crimes tried for it, and those who made the decisions that went with it,” the leftwinger told BBC Newsnight.
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