The Guardian (UK)
Wednesday August 17, 2005 8:08 AM
The families of 17 soldiers killed during the Iraq war and one who took his own life after returning to Britain are launching a legal bid to secure an independent inquiry into the legality of the conflict.
Their lawyers will lodge papers at the High Court in London seeking a judicial review of the Government's refusal in May to order an inquiry.
They argue that, under human rights laws, if the UK state is involved in the use of lethal force there must be an independent inquiry. The court will also be asked to decide the remit of any inquiry.
Among the questions raised by the families is "why the equivocal advice of March 7, 2003 from the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, changed so that 10 days later it was completely unequivocal in giving legal support for the war".
The families want an inquiry which will cross-examine the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the Defence Secretary at the time, Geoff Hoon, and the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
One of the applicants in the case is Rose Gentle, from Pollok, Glasgow, whose 19-year-old son Gordon, of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra on June 28, 2004.
Another applicant, Reg Keys, is the father of Tom Keys who was killed in Al Majar, near Basra, on June 24, 2003, while serving with the Royal Military Police.
Lawyers are seeking an urgent preliminary hearing so that the judicial review can be held before the end of this year.
The hearing is expected to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in September, said the campaign group Military Families Against the War.
The families have already been to Downing Street to formally deliver their request for "a full independent public inquiry" into the decision to invade Iraq and a full investigation into the deaths of their sons. But government lawyers turned down their call and Prime Minister Tony Blair later said there was no need to go "back over this ground again and again."
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