Sunday, August 22, 2004

The widow of the first British soldier to be killed in Iraq has accused anti-war campaigners of exploiting the grief of the relatives of dead servicemen for political purposes.

Samantha Roberts, 32, who rose to prominence after she accused the Government of misleading the public over her husband's death, said that some critics of the conflict had sought to "take advantage" of her own grief and she feared that the same was now happening with other families.

[...] "Widows and relatives need to be careful that their grief isn't going to be used as a weapon to attack the Government by unscrupulous politicians or by those within the media with their own anti-war agenda," said Mrs Roberts, speaking from her home in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. "When you are newly bereaved, you are in a very vulnerable and confused state and it is easy for some people to take advantage of that.

"I certainly felt that some people were trying to take advantage of me and my feelings after Steve died and use them for their own agenda.

"When someone very close to you dies, the rawness of the experience makes you look for someone to blame for their death. I think that the tragedy these families are suffering is being exploited by some who want to attack the Government.

"I would advise anyone who suffers a bereavement in a case like mine to think very carefully before speaking out publicly. I'm no professional, but it is easy to find yourself saying things that you don't mean, and you have to ask yourself whether your husband or son would want you to be doing this."