The mum of a Blackpool soldier killed in the Iraq war called for anyone criticised in the Chilcot report to be held accountable for the deaths of all 179 British servicemen and women in the conflict.
And Karen Thornton says the publication of the report – the inquiry into the build-up to the Iraq War – is the ‘beginning of a new process’ – and one which she hopes will see former Prime Minister Tony Blair brought before the courts.
Speaking before being given access, along with other relatives of the fallen, to the report yesterday morning, she said: “Whatever comes out of [Tony Blair’s] mouth has been a lie regarding Iraq.
“I just think he’d agreed with George Bush the year before that he was going to go in there.
“ Any kind of intelligence he got in that year he just totally exaggerated to make sure we went to war in Iraq.
“I think the people who lied should be held to account and tried for war crimes – they’re responsible for the deaths of so many people.”
And following the report’s release, she told The Gazette: “It’s the beginning of a new process, to get lawyers to look at the report and find out if they can get Tony Blair before a court. I think he has deceived everyone.
“I think it’s quite a good report. The war should never have started.
“It’s almost 10 years – but it still feels like yesterday.”
Mrs Thornton lost her son, gunner Lee Thornton, from Marton, on September 7, 2006, as a result of injuries sustained two days earlier from a single gunshot wound while on patrol in the town of Al Qurna, north of Basra, Iraq.
The 22-year-old, from 58 (Eyre’s) Battery, 12th Regiment Royal Artillery, was known to his colleagues as ‘Thorny’ and had taken part in exercises in Germany, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Poland and Canada, before deploying to Iraq in 2003 on Operation TELIC 1.
Following his death, a statement from the Government read: “He was the epitome of the professional soldier; diligent, motivated, enthusiastic and tremendously fit.
“Thorny proved his credentials on numerous occasions during his career, most notably when competing in the arduous Cambrian Patrol competition in 2004 and 2005.
“He had a gentle side, and this and his unstinting loyalty endeared him to all who were fortunate enough to meet and work alongside him.”
The Blackpool Football Club fan was engaged at the time of his death.
He left behind his loving fiancee, Helen and three younger brothers Ryan, then-19, Sean, then- 15, and Jake, then-13.
His Commanding Officer, Lieut Col Jon Campbell, said in the aftermath of Gunner Thornton’s death: “This has been a very sad week for the Battery for they had already lost two soldiers killed in a roadside bomb on Monday, where a further soldier was seriously wounded.
“It was typical of Gunner Thornton that he volunteered to participate in the very next patrol which went out after the attack a day earlier.
“This gesture of defiance by Lee and his colleagues was aimed at the people who perpetrated the first attack.
“He showed no hesitation in driving out of the security of the Shaibah Logistics Base and facing the ever-present threat to British soldiers in Iraq. Lee Thornton was an excellent soldier.
“He was popular with his mates; he was widely-known around the Regiment.
“His death has touched everyone.”