Mother of soldier killed in Iraq speaks of new fight for families on release of Chilcot Report

Janice Procter with a picture of her son Private Michael Tench who was killed in Iraq in January 2007.
Janice Procter with a picture of her son Private Michael Tench who was killed in Iraq in January 2007.

The mother of one of the youngest soldiers killed in the Iraq war has said the publication of the Chilcot Report marks the next stage in her fight for justice.

Janice Procter’s son Private Michael Tench was just 18-years-old when he died as his Warrior vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Basrah City in January 2007.

Soldier Private Michael Tench who was killed in Iraq after his patrol vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

Soldier Private Michael Tench who was killed in Iraq after his patrol vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

But while she feels the inquiry has not uncovered any new information, she believes it signals the beginning of the next stage in the process for families who believe their children should never have been sent to fight in the conflict, which claimed the lives of 179 British service personnel.

The 54-year-old said: “It’s what I expected, I still think there’s been a cover up.

“I was hoping there would be something in there we didn’t know before.

“I just think Tony Blair is trying to justify himself, I think he’s tried to put a spin on things.

The fact is that from the beginning, there was no concrete evidence to take the decision.

Janice Procter

“The fact is that, from the beginning, there was no concrete evidence to take the decision.

“He led the nation and sent people on a power war.”

Janice and the other families have waited seven years for Sir John Chilcot’s 12-volume report to be issued.

She will see the hard copy on Friday when the documents are delivered to her home, but she has downloaded it to sift through the details in the meantime.

John Miller with portrait of son Simon

John Miller with portrait of son Simon

Janice added: “I was like going into an inquest in that there was the fear of not knowing and also the fear of what you already know.

“It felt like the day that my son was killed all over again.

“What happened has changed me.

“I’m still the same person I was, but I have a different skin, now I see that life is too short.

“Like all the others, what happens next depends on legal advice.

“I want to thank all my friends and family and my Iraq family for their support.

“I hope everyone finds peace.

“The Iraq war may be over for some, but for the 179 families it’s not and this is now the start of a new war for us.”

Pte Tench, a former Hylton Red House School student, served in A Company, 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry, at the time of his death. A keen and talented boxer, he had wanted to join the Army from the age of seven.

Military policeman Corporal Simon Miller, from Washington, was also killed in Iraq when a 400-strong mob descended on a police station in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

His colleague Cpl Paul Long, 24, whose mother Pat lives in Jarrow, and four other redcaps died in the attack.

His father John has campaigned full disclosure over the invasion and travelled to London to hear the outcome of the inquiry.

Some of the families attended the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London where they were given an early glimpse of the 2.6 million-word, 12-volume tome.

The families’ lawyer, Matthew Jury, said: “The families have waited a long time for today to come. They have acted with patience, courage and dignity throughout this entire process.”

In a statement, Mr Jury added: “The families are pleased that the inquiry has discharged its duties without fear, favour or prejudice. However, they are of course saddened that it appears to have been confirmed that their loved ones died unnecessarily and without just cause or purpose.

“In the coming days and weeks, the families will undertake a full and forensic review of the report’s content and conclusions.

“If state officials are determined to have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers then the families will then decide on whether to take any necessary and appropriate action at the proper time. All options will be considered. Just as importantly, as well as examining the culpability of individual state officials, we must also look at the process that led to the war so that we never make such grave mistakes with such tragic long-term and far-reaching consequences again.”