THE families of four young soldiers killed in Iraq were yesterday granted permission to challenge the government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into why the UK took part in the war. But senior appeal court judges who overturned a previous ruling blocking the right to a judicial review over the legality of the conflict also warned it was unlikely that the move "has a real prospect of success".
The judges added that there were "formidable hurdles in the way of the applicants", who include Rose Gentle, the Glasgow housewife-turned-campaigner who lost her 19-year-old son Gordon in a roadside bomb attack in Basra in 2004. Lawyers for the government claim it would be "an unwarranted shift of power" for the courts to make pronouncements on the right of an elected government to go to war. Despite this, Sir Anthony Clarke, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Judge and Lord Justice Dyson, ruled that it was "at least arguable that the question of whether the invasion was lawful - or reasonably thought to be lawful - as a matter of international law is worthy of investigation."
The three judges said permission to appeal had been given because the case, brought jointly by Mrs Gentle, Beverley Clarke, Susan Smith and Peter Brierly, raised "issues of some general importance", but warned it was unlikely to trigger a public inquiry. Phil Shiner, the lawyer acting for the four families, hailed the decision as "a stunning victory" and said the government would have to produce evidence in its defence before a full hearing in the Court of Appeal on November 6.
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