Dear Mr Blair, why are you afraid to meet us?
As two more British soldiers die in Iraq, The Independent publishes an open letter from bereaved relatives to the Prime Minister, 01 March 2006

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned, have each known the pain of losing someone very close to us in the war in Iraq. All of them, Mr Blair, were proud to serve their country, and always knew and accepted that their duty could take them into danger. They always had faith, though, that no British prime minister would ever commit them to fight in an unjustified war.

The bravery of our sons, husbands, fathers, brothers could never be in any doubt. It cost them their lives in pursuit of a war that you so strongly supported. Some of us believed in the war at the outset; others not. All of us now, though, believe it was based on a series of lies - your lies.

Too many lives have been lost in the war, soldiers and Iraqis, and still there is no end in sight. We feel passionately that it is time to bring our troops home. We will be supporting the Troops Out demonstration on 18 March.

We would, of course, like the chance to say all this to you in person. As you know, we have sought meetings with you, to no avail. That seems to us a serious dereliction of your responsibilities. If you truly believe your policies, and the continuing need for the presence of British servicemen and women in Iraq, you should surely have the courage to face the families of those who have paid the ultimate price, and to explain them to us.

In the midst of the most terrible grief, we have tried at all times to conduct ourselves with dignity. Even as two more families endure the agony of loss all of us know so well, we hope our letter today requesting a meeting might give you pause for thought, and to reconsider. It is time for you to take us and our views seriously. We believe we speak for the majority in this country in our desire to bring the troops home. We ask you to treat us with respect.

Yours sincerely

Debbie Allbutt Wife of Cpl Stephen Allbutt, 35, of the Queen's Royal Lancers, died 25 March 2003

Anna Aston Wife of Cpl Russell Aston, 30, of 156 Provost Company, died 24 June 2003

Roger Bacon Father of Major Matthew Bacon, 34, of Headquarters of Multi-National Division, died 11 September 2005

Peter, Christine and Helen Brierley Parents and sister of L/Cpl Shaun Brierley, 28, of 212 Signal Squadron, died 30 March 2003

Beverley Clarke Mother of Tpr David Clarke, 19, of the Queen's Royal Lancers, died 25 March 2003

James and Ray Craw Parents of L/Cpl Andrew Craw, 21, of 1st Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, died 7 January 2004

Theresa Evans Mother of L/Bombardier Llywelyn Evans, aged 29, of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, died 21 March 2003

Rose and George Gentle, and Pauline Graham Parents and grandmother of Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, of 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers, died 28 June 2004

Richard, Karen and Catherine Green Parents and sister of Lt Philip Green, 30, of 849 Squadron, died 22 March 2003

Sharon Hehir Wife of Sgt Les Hehir, 34, of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, died 21 March 2003

Pauline Hickey Mother of Sgt Chris Hickey, 30, of 1st Battalion, the Coldstream Guards, died 18 October 2005

Reg and Sally Keys Parents of L/Cpl Thomas Keys, 20, of 156 Provost Company, RMP, died 24 June 2003

George and Ann Lawrence Parents of Lt Marc Lawrence, 26, of 849 Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, died 22 March 2003

Patricia Long, Byron Long Mother and brother of Cpl Paul Long, 24, of 156 Provost Company, RMP, died 24 June 2003

John and Marilyn Miller Parents of Cpl Simon Miller, 21, of 156 Provost Company, died 24 June 2003

Tracey, Tony and Mair Pritchard Wife and parents of Cpl Dewi Pritchard, 35, of 116 Provost Company (Volunteers), died 23 August 2003

Lianne Seymour Wife of operator mechanic 2nd Class Ian Seymour, 28, of 148 Commando Battery Royal Artillery, died 21 March 2003

Sue and Nigel Smith Mother and stepfather of Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, of 1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment, died 16 July 2005