Chilcot report should have been made public ‘years ago’ - say family of Rye soldier

Corporal John Rigby. Picture courtesy of the Ministry of Defence
Corporal John Rigby. Picture courtesy of the Ministry of Defence

The family of a soldier who died serving in Iraq said the findings on the UK’s involvement in the 2003 war should have been made public ‘years ago’.

Doug and Liz Rigby, who lived in Playden, near Rye, at the time of their son John’s death, are angry with the politicians who led the country into war 13 years ago.

Sir John Chilcot published his long-awaited report on Wednesday (July 6), which condemned former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to commit British troops to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

He said the UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted and found Mr Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, led by Saddam Hussein, as he made the case for military action.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the Chilcot report being published, Mr Rigby said he initially believed the Blair government’s justification for the war but failure to find any weapons of mass destruction left him feeling bitter.

He said: “My grandfather fought in a war where the troops were lions led by donkeys, and the donkeys were the generals.

“I think the lads in Basra were called the lions of Basra and the donkeys were the politicians who sent them there in the first place.”

The couple want politicians responsible for sending their son to war to be held into account.

“It should have happened years ago. I think they hope that people will have forgotten about it, but we’ll never forget about it,” Liz Rigby told the BBC.

Corporal John Rigby, of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, was fatally injured in a roadside bomb attack near Basra Palace in 2007.

His twin brother Will, who was serving with him in Iraq, spent 10 hours at his bedside in hospital. Corporal Rigby died on his 24th birthday, with his brother by his side.

He was protecting his riflemen, who were saved from injury by their vehicle as he selflessly provided top cover from the vehicle hatch.

Corporal Rigby attended Etchingham School and Robertsbridge Community College.

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