FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair has been publicly snubbed by a bereaved father from Kirklees who accused him of having “blood on his hands” for sending troops to fight in Iraq.
Mr Blair, who has repeatedly defended his decision to lead Britain into the conflict, was rebuked by Peter Brierley, from Batley, whose son, Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, 28, was killed in 2003.
The clash came at a reception for guests who had attended a commemoration service marking the end of Operation Telic – the Iraq campaign – and honouring the 179 British personnel who died during the six-year conflict.
Mr Brierley refused to shake Mr Blair’s outstretched hand at the event staged at the Guildhall in the City and told the politician: “I’m not shaking your hand, you’ve got blood on it.”
The former prime minister was ushered away and afterwards Mr Brierley said: “I understand soldiers go to war and die, but they have to go to war for a good reason and be properly equipped to fight.
“I believe Tony Blair is a war criminal. I can’t bear to be in the same room as him. I can’t believe he’s been allowed to come to this reception.
“I believe he’s got the blood of my son and all of the other men and women who died out there on his hands.”
His son was a 28-year-old radio systems operator with 212 Signal Squadron when he was killed in a road traffic accident in March 2003 in Kuwait while serving in Operation Telic.
Mr Brierley – who spoke at a Stop The War protest meeting in Huddersfield on Tuesday – added: “It comes back to me every day, every time I see a coffin come off a plane; it reminds me of what happened to Shaun.”
Mr Blair had joined the Queen, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Iraq veterans and bereaved families at the poignant St Paul’s Cathedral service.
The sacrifices made by British men and women who served in Iraq were commemorated at the national service of remembrance.
Servicemen and women injured during the Operation Telic campaign, and the families of those killed in the conflict were also among the congregation.
The soldiers, sailors and airmen, joined by their families, arrived in uniform with many proudly wearing their medals.