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Price vindicated on Iraq War

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‘Not justified’: Responsibility lies with Blair

‘Not justified’: Responsibility lies with Blair

Price vindicated on Iraq War IN 2004, the then Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Adam Price, was ejected from the House of Commons for claiming that the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had lied to Parliament when laying out the case for the invasion of Iraq.

The Plaid MP was leading the first attempt in over 150 years to attempt to have a serving Prime Minister prosecuted on the grounds of misleading Parliament, after mass protests the previous year had shown how divisive Labour’s war policy was. The publication of the longawaited Chilcot Report on Wednesday (Jul 6) appears to have vindicated much of what Adam Price and others thought at the time: that evidence was exaggerated; proper processes bypassed; and that facts were manipulated to fit a pre-determined agenda. Jonathan Edwards, Adam Price’s successor as MP, and Adam Price, recently elected to the Welsh Assembly, have both welcomed the report’s publication. Published after seven years in the making, the Chilcot Inquiry and its report were commissioned by Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, on June 15, 2009.

At its launch, the Chair of the Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, outlined its scope: “[The Inquiry] will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the runup to the conflict in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned.”

The taint of Britain’s involvement in Iraq affected not only the remaining years of Tony Blair’s period in office, but has overshadowed successive governments’ foreign policies over the years since. Carmarthenshire played a significant role in the anti-war movement in 2003 when hundreds of county residents travelled by coach to London to join over one million people in protest against the invasion of Iraq. The invasion, carried out without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council, led to the deaths of 179 British servicemen and women, alongside countless Iraqi deaths as a result of the invasion and the sectarian conflict that erupted in its immediate aftermath.

Adam Price, now Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Finance and Economy, said: “The report is utterly damning of the former Prime Minister and vindicates all the work we did at the time to try to bring him to justice. It is now unequivocal that what Mr Blair told Parliament did not reflect the evidence given to him by the security services.

“This is not just about MPs being misled – this is about a deliberate deception that led to up to a million people losing their lives, with a failed state and the Middle East in flames. Our thoughts particularly must also be with the families of those service men and women who lost their lives unnecessarily. “We cannot have an illegal war with such devastating consequences without a judicial or political reckoning. Mr Blair must be held to account.”

Echoing Adam Price’s words, Jonathan Edwards MP said: “Plaid Cymru has always maintained that Iraq War was illegal. We cannot and will not let those who led Britain into an illegal war that led to such devastation and suffering go unpunished.” However, Chilcot’s remit excluded considering the war’s legality and since crimes of aggression were not defined by the ICC statute at the time of invasion, it cannot apply retroactively.

One possible legal recourse would be an action for misconduct in public office – an offence which is committed when ‘a public officer acting as such wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder without reasonable excuse or justification’.

The threshold test for such ‘misconduct’ is, however, set at a level to prevent actions being brought against politicians and public officials by those with a grievance against them on political grounds. Furthermore, Chilcot does not say that Blair lied about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, although he does say that UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix should have been given the opportunity to continue inspections.

Instead, the strong inference to be drawn from the report is that Tony Blair managed to convince himself – and thereafter others – that what he was saying was true, or at least justified. One thing is certain: at four times the length of War and Peace, there will be more people that will have claimed to have read the Chilcot Report than actually will.

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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