Brown prepares for Chilcot

By staff

Gordon Brown is preparing for his appearance at the Iraq inquiry tomorrow, with families of service personnel keen to see the prime minister answer questions about funding for frontline forces.

Mr Brown will appear from 10:00 GMT tomorrow to discuss his role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when he was chancellor.

Various witnesses have cast doubt on the level of support Mr Brown gave the armed forces as they prepared for war. Some military families want answers from the prime minister when he appears tomorrow.

Following the same system as that imposed before Tony Blair’s appearance, a ballot was held for those wanting to sit in the session for Mr Brown’s appearance.

Some families of those who died fighting in the war want questions answered about the use of Snatch Land Rovers, which some commentators suggest are inadequate in protecting service personnel against roadside bombs.

The Times has published a letter from a lawyer acting on behalf of the mother of Phillip Hewett who died in a roadside blast in 2005.

In a letter to Sir John Chilcot, Mr Hewitt’s mother Susan Smith writes: “We ask that you question Mr Brown about decisions he took as chancellor of the exchequer regarding funding of the Iraq war in light of evidence heard by your inquiry.

“Specifically, was he aware of concerns around the lack of armoured vehicles and did he receive any requests for funding (particularly in the period 1997-2006) to purchase armoured vehicles? What concerns, if any, were raised with him about the use of Snatch Land Rovers?”

The Land Rovers were first used in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and were designed to withstand attacks from projectiles including hand grenades.

However since their deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan there has been growing concern they are insufficient to protect against bombs planted at roadsides by insurgents.

More than 30 British service personnel have been killed while patrolling in the vehicles, which have now been replaced by Mastiff armoured vehicles.

Former Ministry of Defence permanent secretary Sir Kevin Tebbit told the Chilcot inquiry Mr Brown had “guillotined” defence spending shortly after the 2003 invasion.