Chilcot report finds serious government failings
The long awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war was released today and makes highly critical comments about Tony Blair's government and the intelligence services.
In his opening statement, Sir John Chilcot said it was clear that the policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments, that were not challenged, and should have been.
He went on to say that more than 200 British citizens died as a result of the conflict and many more were injured, which meant deep anguish for many families, including those who are in London today to hear the report.
As well as these deaths, at least 150,000 Iraqis, most of them civilians, died, and more than a million people were displaced.
However, his most damming statement was that the UK did not face an “imminent threat” from Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, one of the reasons the government gave at the time for going to war.
One of the servicemen who lost his life during the conflict was Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard from Ripley.
Martin was tragically killed in 2007, while on a routine patrol in the Al Waki district north of the British Base at Basra Air Station.
He was shot, when his 40-strong patrol faced a large-scale ambush, coming under fire from at least a dozen positions, as it moved through the local market.
Martin was not wearing body armour at the time, although the inquest was told it was standard procedure for patrols not to attach collars and arm pads because they restrict troops from firing their weapons accurately.
After being shot, his colleague, Cpl David Hayden of Spalding, Lincolnshire, carried him on his shoulder to a waiting helicopter to be be taken to a field hospital, where he sadly died.
Cpl Hayden was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery.
Martin was due to be married when he returned from Iraq, to his fiancée Nicola Parkin.
He left behind his father, Roy, and two sisters, Victoria and Rachael.
Martin was buried with full military honours at All Saints Church in Ripley.