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Families of troops killed in Iraq tell of outrage at ‘Sir Tony’ Blair

Furious relatives of fallen troops have vowed to hand their medals back in disgust at Tony Blair’s knighthood as a petition to strip the former prime minister of the honour passed 750,000 signatures.

A group of military parents have started discussing a protest in London to return their Elizabeth Crosses, which are given to the next of kin of those killed in action.

They are enraged that Mr Blair has been knighted having started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that left their children among more than 600 British servicemen dead.

As signatures continued to mount on a Change.org petition calling for the knighthood to be rescinded, a senior serving Labour MP defied Sir Keir Starmer, who has said Sir Tony ‘deserves the honour’.

Killed: Simon Miller, 21, was shot dead by an Iraqi mob

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the MP told the Daily Mail: ‘I just think it’s ridiculous he’s been given a knighthood – he’s an untried war criminal.’

Mark Thompson – whose son Kevin, 21, was killed by an IED near Basra in southern Iraq in 2007 – is among those planning to return their medals.

‘If Tony Blair receives a knighthood, I will return my son’s medal,’ he said. ‘I have spoken to more than ten families who are all prepared to hand their medals back. I think there are hundreds out there who will join us. They all feel the same way – they are all fuming. It is all so wrong.’

Mr Thompson, 61, a coach driver from Lancaster, is among those planning a possible protest in the capital.

Anger: John Miller with Elizabeth Cross given to the family after his son’s death

Anger: John Miller with Elizabeth Cross given to the family after his son’s death

He said: ‘We are considering meeting up, starting a petition and going to Downing Street and talking to Boris Johnson to tell him how we feel about all this.

‘I will hand my medal to a guard at Windsor Castle if I have to. It is heartbreaking, it really is heartbreaking.’

John Miller’s 21-year-old son Simon was among six Royal Military Policeman beaten and shot to death by a mob of 400 Iraqis in 2003. He vowed last night to join the parents in handing back the medals.

Mr Miller, 70, who lives with his wife Marilyn, 66, in Washington, Tyne and Wear, said: ‘We will join them if they want to make a statement. The medal doesn’t mean anything to me any more, so if others want to hand them back I will go with them.

Pictured: The Elizabeth Cross which was posthumously awarded to Private Kevin Thompson, 21, after his death in Iraq in 2007

Pictured: The Elizabeth Cross which was posthumously awarded to Private Kevin Thompson, 21, after his death in Iraq in 2007

‘I have put the medal in my bottom drawer, I don’t look at it. When the Queen gave Tony Blair his knighthood I took down a scroll from her thanking Simon for his service.

‘I used to be proud of it but now it means absolutely nothing. That was a kick in the teeth, when I heard she had given him a knighthood.’

Rose Gentle, 58, of Glasgow, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Basra in 2004, is also contemplating parting with her medal. She said: ‘I am considering returning my Elizabeth Cross if most parents think it is the right thing to do.

‘It’s a deeply personal decision for each bereaved family and, while my son deserves this medal, I want to see how things play out with Blair’s knighthood before I make my final decision.’

Killed: Kevin Thompson died in an IED explosion near Basra in 2007

Killed: Kevin Thompson died in an IED explosion near Basra in 2007

Hazel Hunt, 62, of Abergavenny, South Wales, is also considering the move. She lost her son Richard, 21, in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in 2009 when he was killed in an explosion while on patrol with the Royal Welsh Regiment. Mrs Hunt said: ‘Those who know me know I have been a devout monarchist all my life, but I’m seriously contemplating sending the Elizabeth Cross back to Her Majesty as a sign of my protest and disgust at this decision. Did we and 456 other families from the Afghan campaign and 179 from the Iraq campaign lose a part of our family forever so that the wicked Blairs could go down in history?’

Another former soldier who gave his name as Steve told LBC that he is removing a tattoo of the Queen on his arm ‘immediately’ over the knighthood. He told the radio station: ‘She should be condemning him, not condoning him.’

But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey warned that critics of Sir Tony’s knighthood were being ‘disrespectful’ to the Queen.

Sir Ed said: ‘If the Queen wants to knight a politician or someone out of politics in any walk of life, I think we should respect Her Majesty, and I’m rather worried that people are being disrespectful to Her Majesty.’

Sir Tony refused to comment on the row when approached at his £7million central London mews house yesterday.

He appeared exasperated when questioned by the Mail about his response to the petition, sighing and giving an expression of disdain before shutting the door of his home without saying a word. 

Pictured: Tony Blair addressing soldiers in Basra in 2004

Pictured: Tony Blair addressing soldiers in Basra in 2004

Oh, the irony… how Blair backed calls to remove Mugabe’s knighthood

By Simon Walters 

Sir Tony was branded a hypocrite last night for accepting a knighthood after leading the charge to strip Robert Mugabe of his.

As prime minister, Sir Tony told MPs in 2003 that he would ‘certainly look at the issue of the honorary knighthood’ granted to Mugabe, then president of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe was eventually stripped of his honour by the last Labour government, under Gordon Brown.

The honorary knighthood was annulled in 2008 by the Queen, following a recommendation by foreign secretary David Miliband ‘as a mark of revulsion at his abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process’.

Mr Miliband had previously served as Sir Tony’s chief of staff in No 10 and was a close personal and political ally of the former PM. Sir Tony himself had been challenged in the Commons in 2003 by Tory MP Andrew Robathan – now Lord Robathan – to rescind the honour.

Summit: Newly-elected PM Tony Blair and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in Edinburgh in 1997

Summit: Newly-elected PM Tony Blair and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in Edinburgh in 1997

Lord Robathan told the Mail last night: ‘Many people will find it extraordinary that Tony Blair thought it appropriate to remove Robert Mugabe’s knighthood while seeing nothing hypocritical in accepting one for himself. It is truly bizarre.’

Sir Tony spoke out in favour in stripping Mugabe of his knighthood in December 2003, eight months after the start of the Iraq war – and claimed removing the honour was one way to force regime change in Zimbabwe. Mugabe was eventually ousted in a coup in 2017, and died two years later.

Mugabe had been made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1994 when Sir John Major was prime minister.

Sir Tony has been made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter – the most senior form of knighthood, which has been bestowed upon all bar one of his predecessors in the Queen’s reign.

Unlike the New Year’s Honours list, which is drawn up by the Government for the Queen’s approval, the Order of the Garter is bestowed as a personal gift by the monarch herself.

The Honours Forfeiture Committee, which can remove honours for those involved in scandals, cannot recommend the removal of knighthoods handed out in this way.

Call to release the ‘burn after reading’ files 

By Andy Jehring, Rosie Dunn, Liz Hull and Kumail Jaffer for the Daily Mail

Bereaved military mothers have urged Boris Johnson to release all secret documents relating to Tony Blair’s wars.

Their call comes after the Mail told how Sir Tony’s own defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, revealed in his memoir that he was ordered to burn a memo warning that invading Iraq could be illegal.

Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq in 2004, is leading a legal bid to unlock state secrets about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is now being backed by five more mums – Carol Valentine, Hazel Hunt, Caroline Whitaker, Caroline Jane Munday-Baker and Helen Perry – who have already written to the Queen, urging her to strip Sir Tony of his knighthood for sending troops to war ‘on a bed of lies’.

Bereaved military mothers have urged Boris Johnson to release all secret documents relating to Tony Blair’s wars

Bereaved military mothers have urged Boris Johnson to release all secret documents relating to Tony Blair’s wars

Mrs Gentle said: ‘I have fought so hard to get at the truth all these years, but I have been blocked at every corner. Blair belongs in the dock for what he has done and now his own defence secretary has confirmed it. It’s time for Boris Johnson to step up and unlock the secrets of these terrible wars and atone for the hundreds and hundreds of unnecessary deaths and suffering. The truth needs to come out now and the only thing that should be locked up is Blair.’

In his memoir See How They Run, Mr Hoon says his principal private secretary was told by Jonathan Powell, then Sir Tony’s chief of staff, to ‘burn’ advice from attorney general Lord Goldsmith about the Iraq war. Mr Hoon ensured the document was locked away instead. But Mrs Valentine, whose son Simon, 29, was killed clearing landmines in Helmand Province in 2009, said: ‘Geoff Hoon needs to apologise for perpetuating Blair’s lies. It’s funny how he thinks it’s appropriate to come clean now as he has a book out.’

Mr Powell this week denied Mr Hoon’s claims – but a source close to the former minister insisted his account was correct. Sir Tony dismissed the burning story as ‘nonsense’ when it emerged in 2015.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk