Mum of fallen Suffolk soldier calls Tony Blair knighthood 'a real insult'
- Credit: Archant
The mother of a Suffolk soldier killed in Iraq 16 years ago said she is "absolutely disgusted" that former prime minister Tony Blair has received a knighthood.
Elsie Manning, 77, whose Hadleigh-born daughter Sharron Elliott was killed in a patrol boat near Basra on Remembrance Sunday 2006, called the honour for the ex-Labour leader "a real insult" to fallen soldiers and their families.
More than half a million people, including Ms Manning, have now signed a petition demanding Sir Tony, who was in power from 1997 to 2007, be stripped of his knighthood.
The petition, on Change.org, accuses Sir Tony, 68, of "causing irreparable damage" to the constitution of the United Kingdom and asks for him to be held accountable for "war crimes".
However, the petition will not be debated by MPs because honours are a matter for the Queen and not ministers.
Speaking of the knighthood, Ms Manning, who now lives in South Shields, said: "I was absolutely disgusted. It's just a real insult to all those kids that have died and were injured and who are struggling with life.
"When we went to the Arboretum, they asked me if I wanted to speak to him or Gordon Brown and I wouldn't speak to either. To me, they killed my daughter.
"We as families are absolutely gutted. It's just heart-breaking really to think he's being rewarded for all the deaths that have happened.
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"If he had any morals at all, he would decline and refuse it."
Staff Sergeant Elliott was one of four service personnel killed when an improvised explosion device (IED) was detonated on a bridge above the Shatt Al-Arab waterway as they headed back to base.
The 34-year-old, who had only arrived in Iraq the week before, had been praised by her commanding officer as a “no-nonsense, professional soldier who displayed both strength and compassion”.
Ms Manning added: "It seems like it's only yesterday. Especially when it comes up to Christmas and her birthday. It's still really hard and you have to go on with life but there's still that emptiness there, that feeling of horror.
"It's just that empty chair at Christmas time. I know everybody loves Christmas but Sharron really loved Christmas and no matter where she was, she always tried to make it home."
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dismissed criticism of Sir Tony Blair's knighthood, insisting the former prime minister deserves the honour.