Brother blames Blair for his sister’s death

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

The brother of a Hadleigh soldier who died in the Iraq War says he holds former prime minister Tony Blair accountable for his sister’s death.

He was speaking after the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry into the war.

Gary Howard, 47, is part of a campaign group which has started an online crowdfunding appeal to pay for possible legal action.

He now lives near Oldham, Lancashire, but he spent his childhood in Hadleigh with his late sister, Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott.

Together with their brothers, Michael, David and Wayne, they lived in Canterbury Gardens, Hadleigh.

Serving with the Army Intelligence Corps, Sharron died aged 34 on November 12, 2006 when the boat she was travelling in was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) during a patrol along the Shatt al-Arab waterway in Basra.

At the inquest into his sister’s death, the coroner said the Army had failed to check the bridge in Basra from where the bomb that killed her was detonated, and the significance of that finding has now been added to by the Iraq inquiry judgements.

Gary served in the Grenadier Guards and then the Military Police before leaving the Army and starting his own forensics company. He also served in Iraq.

Speaking about his sister’s death in an interview with Revolution 96.2, a radio station broadcasting in Oldham, he said: “When you join the Army, you expect to put your life on the line. We’ve been all over the world and put our lives on the line for a reason. That reason - we believe our government gives us a just cause.

“That’s what we were told by our political masters but they used us and lied to us, they used us to effect regime change,” he said.

“Tony Blair has lied. But he has lied in such a way that has cost lives and has cost tax payers hundreds of millions of pounds. He should be held accountable.”

Sharron grew up in Hadleigh and attended Hadleigh High School. She was single and had no children.

She went on to become the first female aircraft technician in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers before transferring to Army Intelligence, and undercover work in Northern Ireland before completing numerous tours of duty.