26/07/2006

Victory for Iraq families at Court of Appeal

The families of British soldiers killed in Iraq have made a legal breakthrough in their bid to get a full public inquiry held into why Britain entered into the conflict.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the families were entitled to apply for a judicial review of the government's refusal to hold an independent inquiry.

The applicants are relatives of four servicemen - Shaun Brierley, David Clarke, Gordon Gentle and Philip Hewett - who were killed between 2003 and 2005.

The Court of Appeal will now hear the full application on November 6.

The families' previous application for a judicial review was blocked by Mr Justice Collins in the High Court last December. He had argued that their case was "unarguable".

Lawyers acting for the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary and the Attorney General had argued that it would be an "unwarranted shift power" for the courts to make pronouncements on the right of the government to go to war.

However, appeal court judges overturned the decision on Wednesday.

The families' solicitor Phil Shiner described the decision as a "stunning victory". He said: "In particular, the government must finally explain how the 13-page equivocal advice from the Attorney General of March 7, 2003 was changed within 10 days to a one-page completely unequivocal advice that an invasion would be legal."

(KMcA/SP)

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