Crowd-funding pays for lawyers to comb Chilcot report for Blair guilt over Iraq


The father of a British soldier killed in the Iraq War has said the "fight goes on" to pursue possible legal action against Tony Blair.

Reg Keys, whose son Tom Keys died in 2003, said lawyers were now "drilling down" into the 2.6 million page Chilcot report after a successful £150,000 crowd-funding campaign to pay for the crucial legal work.

The Iraq War Families Campaign Group launched the fundraiser on July 19 and despite passing its target, money has continued to roll in, now totalling £159,000 from more than 5,100 donors.

That cash is funding a forensic legal analysis of the Chilcot report, to establish whether a case could be brought against Mr Blair or other senior British officials "who might have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers".

Mr Keys, who has led the campaign with fellow bereaved father Roger Bacon, said: "We're hopeful the next time you see us, it'll be at the Royal Courts of Justice to bring a civil prosecution over this debacle."

He said the first stage of work by a team of lawyers from London-based McCue and Partners had already been completed.

The cash appeal came weeks after the Chilcot report tore into former prime minister Mr Blair, other leading politicians and senior officials over their actions before, during and after the conflict in which 179 British service personnel died.

Mr Keys said: "The first instalment of work is already over.

"About one week ago the lawyers completed a breakdown of the areas they would be looking at.

"We've had that breakdown.

"But it's got to be a water-tight argument."

Between six and eight lawyers are working through the lengthy report with Mr Keys hopeful the families can fulfil their vow to "bring to justice those responsible for the war and the deaths of our loved ones".

He said the campaign had taken inspiration from the fight by the bereaved Hillsborough relatives and the successful civil court action bought by loved ones of victims of the 1998 Omagh bombings.

Mr Keys said: "I feel good.

"We're back on the road again at last, things have not come to a stagnant end.

"The fight goes on."

The 64-year-old retired paramedic from Hollywood, Birmingham, added: "The truth does have a habit of bubbling up."

Sir John Chilcot's report strongly criticised the way Mr Blair took the country to war in 2003 on the basis of "flawed" intelligence with inadequate preparation at a time when Saddam Hussein did not pose an "imminent threat".

It also said the way the decision about the legal basis for the war was reached was "far from satisfactory", but his report did not rule on the legality of the military action.

Mr Blair has defended the decision to oust Saddam and insisted that his efforts to form a close relationship with the US had persuaded President George W Bush to pursue a second UN Security Council resolution, which ultimately was not obtained.

The money donated to the bereaved families campaign group is to provide "a comprehensive opinion approved by expert senior counsel".

This will inform the relatives whether legal action against key actors would succeed or not.

Matthew Jury, managing partner at McCue and Partners, said: "Without the British public's support, Sir John Chilcot's report would be gathering dust already - but now, we will be able once and for all, to determine accountability and possible routes to justice."