Iraq Memorial image

MoD Backtracks Over Memorial Unveiling

The Ministry of Defence is reportedly making a last-minute attempt to invite all the families of British soldiers who died in Iraq and...

Iraq Memorial image

The Ministry of Defence is reportedly making a last-minute attempt to invite all the families of British soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan to a ceremony commemorating the wars.

Theresa May was challenged in the House of Commons over why some relatives of servicemen and women, killed in whilst serving the countries, were not invited.

Speaking at PMQ's the Prime Minister said any bereaved family members who asked to come could attend, after condemnation from Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.

The move comes after criticism from widows and grieving parents who said they felt snubbed after they were excluded from the unveiling of the memorial in London on Thursday.

Military widow Brenda Hale said the decision not to invite all of the close family members of servicemen and women who died in the conflicts was "crass".

Mrs Hale, whose husband Captain Mark Hale was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, said last week:

"If it is the case that the charities have been left to decide who is to attend and who isn't that is completely crass."

"For that to happen, it speaks volumes that the MoD, despite the conflicts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and despite the number of families falling through the net, they still haven't got their act together and they still don't understand what it is like to be the family left behind, the family that has to go on alone."

Mrs Hale had not yet received an invitation.

The Iraq Afghanistan memorial will be dedicated at a service attended by 2,500 people, including civil servants and politicians as well as veterans and relatives of those who lost loved ones.

Invitations did go out to a number of bereaved family members, but there was no coordinated effort to make sure at least one relative of each of the 680 British military personnel who died was told about it.

Wendy Rayner’s husband, Sergeant Peter Rayner, was killed by an improved explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in 2010. She said:

"I am not an unreasonable person. We know there is only a certain amount of places, we understand that deeply. It's the way they've gone about it. They have not even written a letter of acknowledgement to say 'This event is taking place. There won't be enough spaces for you to attend this time. We are deeply sorry.' But we didn't even get that, we got nothing."

She said she plans to visit the memorial at a later date to pay her respects.

The MoD said the memorial will represent the more than 300,000 people who served in the conflicts between 1990 and 2015 and those who supported their efforts from the UK, not just those who died.

A spokeswoman said the relevant charities and organisations had been contacted to ensure all groups are represented.