'I don't know how he sleeps at night': Parents of fallen soldiers blast Tony Blair knighthood
Video report by ITV Tyne Tees' Gregg Easteal
Bereaved parents of soldiers killed in Iraq have spoken out against Tony Blair's knighthood, with one mother telling ITV Tyne Tees "his name rocks the back of my spine".
More than half of Britons disapprove of Tony Blair’s knighthood, according to a YouGov poll.
In the 2022 New Year Honours list, the longest-serving Labour Prime Minister and former MP for Sedgefield was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter - the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry, to which appointments are in the Queen's gift without advice from the government.
But by the afternoon of Tuesday 4 January, more than 600,000 people had signed a petition calling to have the honour rescinded.
Angus Scott, who started the petition, holds Blair "personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts".
Janice Proctor, from Washington, lost her son Private Michael Tench on 21 January 2007 when he died due to injuries sustained from a roadside bomb blast Basrah City, Southern Iraq. The Sunderland-born boxing enthusiast was just 18 years old.
Ms Proctor supports the petition and says she was "disgusted" to see Mr Blair on the honours list.
"His name rocks the back of my spine," she said. "Every year Tony Blair comes up with something that brings back horrible memories.
Ms Proctor went on to describe the year after seeing her son's "completely mutilated" body - which she requested to see - as the "biggest battle of my life".
Lance Corporal Ben Hyde of the Royal Military Police was just 23 when he and five others were killed by a mob of Iraqi civilians in the town of Majar al-Kabir.
His father, John Hyde, has also criticised the decision to honour Mr Blair.
"To say I was astonished would be a very mild way of putting my feelings," he said.
To support his claim, Mr Hyde cited the 'Iraq Inquiry'. Also known as the 'Chilcot Report', the seven-year-long inquiry concluded Mr Blair exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, led Britain into an unnecessary war before peaceful options had been exhausted and sent ill-equipped British troops into battle.
In response to the criticism, Labour leader Keir Starmer argued the former Prime Minister's involvement with the Iraq War doesn't detract from his successes, which 'made huge differences to the lives of millions of people'.
Under Mr Blair's premiership, a National Minimum Wage was introduced, Section 28 (which banned teachers 'promoting homosexuality') was abolished and he played an active role in the historical Northern Ireland peace process.
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change provided the following statement from Mr Blair on receiving the honour:
"It is an immense honour to be appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty the Queen.
"It was a great privilege to serve as Prime Minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me, in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country."
Buckingham Palace, who bestowed the honour on Sir Tony, declined to comment on the backlash.