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Mum's anger over Iraq war secrecy
« on: February 28, 2009, 01:10:46 PM »
Mum's anger over Iraq war secrecy

25 February 2009
By Andy Hughes Shields Gazette

THE mum of a soldier killed at war has told of her anger after Justice Secretary Jack Straw banned the release of Cabinet discussions on the invasion of Iraq.

The Information Tribunal has ordered the publication of records from key meetings before the 2003 Iraq War.

But Mr Straw, who introduced the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, told the Commons he will veto the publication, sparking outrage from opposition MPs.

Grieving mum Elsie Manning, whose daughter Sharron Elliott, 34, was killed in a boat bomb blast in Basra in November 2006, today hit back at Mr Straw for his refusal.

The 64-year-old, from Cheviot Road, South Shields, said: "He's just scared, running away from the truth. I've got no time for this Government at all.

"The families of soldiers who've been killed need answers. We deserve to know why our children have died.

"There's been so many deaths since the war started that the Government should explain why they invaded Iraq.

"It makes me so angry and frustrated that it has been refused."

Mr Straw, who as Foreign Secretary played a vital role in the invasion of Iraq, said releasing the papers would do "serious damage" to Cabinet Government and outweighed "public interest".

The Information Tribunal last month rejected a Government appeal against the Information Commissioner's ruling that the papers be published because decisions taken in the run-up to 2003 invasion of Iraq were "momentous" and controversial.

Instead of appealing against the Information Tribunal's decision in the High Court, Mr Straw decided instead to use the ministerial veto for the first time since the FOI laws came into force in 2000.

Mr Straw told MPs he had not taken the decision which had to be approved by Cabinet "lightly".

But he said it was "necessary" in the interest of protecting the confidentiality of ministerial discussions.