sister of ambushed soldier Luke Allsopp insisted last
night: "My brother was not executed."
Nina Allsopp hit
out at "lies" surrounding his death.
Grieving Nina - 29
today - said: "We have been told by the Army that Luke
died in action.
"The Colonel from
his barracks came around to our house to tell us he was
not executed. Luke's Land Rover was ambushed and he died
"The Colonel told
us he was doing what he could to set the record
straight. We are very angry.
"It makes a big
difference to us knowing that he died quickly. We can't
understand why people are lying about what happened.
"It must be a
mistake. It's important to us that people know the
truth. That people know what really happened."
Nina was stunned
when she heard the PM had gone on TV to denounce the
"executions" of Sapper Luke, 24, and Staff Sgt Simon
Mr Blair, speaking
in America, condemned gruesome footage of the dead
soldiers shown on Iraqi TV as an act of cruelty beyond
images as a "reality" of Saddam Hussein's regime he
said: "His thugs prepared to kill their own people, the
parading of prisoners of war, and now the release of
those pictures of executed British soldiers...
"If anyone needed
any further evidence of the depravity of Saddam's
regime, this atrocity provides it.
"It is yet one more
flagrant breach of all the proper conventions of
"More than that, to
the families of the soldiers involved, it is an act of
cruelty beyond comprehension. Indeed, it is beyond the
comprehension of anyone with an ounce of humanity in
Sgt Simon Cullingworth's job was to clear mines laid by
The PM added: "On
behalf of the British Government, I would like to offer
my condolences particularly to the families and friends
of those two brave young men who died in the service of
their country and of the ordinary Iraqi people to whom
we are determined to bring a better future."
And today Downing
Street insisted the soldiers"may well have been"
But last night Nina
said at the family's home in Dagenham, Essex: "I have
not been able to watch the TV reports or listen to the
Prime Minister talking of an execution.
"It's so upsetting.
And it's not what happened to Luke."
Later Mr Blair
refused to give further details of what he knew about
the soldiers' deaths.
reporters about his claim they were executed, he would
only say: "The reason I used the language I did was
because of the circumstances that we know."
political editor Adam Boulton was one of those who
quizzed Mr Blair at Camp David over his claim.
He commented on Sky
News last night: "Whether it was wise for the Prime
Minister to use a word like 'execute' without being
entirely sure only time will tell."
Mr Blair's official
spokesman later admitted there was no conclusive proof
that the soldiers had been executed.
He said: "It is a
terrible thing to talk in these terms, but since we
don't have the two bodies we can't be absolutely
"But every piece of
information we have points in the direction of these men
having been executed in a very brutal fashion.
"It includes the
fact that the two bodies were found some distance from
the vehicles in which they were travelling and had lost
their protective equipment, flak jackets and helmets. It
does point in that direction."
A spokeswoman for
the MoD agreed that it was likely the soldiers had been
executed. She said: "They were found without their
protective equipment, which suggests they could have
But Iraq strongly
denied the claim. Information Minister Mohammad Saeed
al-Sahaf accused Mr Blair of twisting the truth.
He said when Iraq
released pictures of the soldiers "the situation became
tense in Britain because the British Prime Minister lied
to the public".
He added: "To
launch a psychological war on us he said, 'You have
They are either
killed in the battlefield or the rest are captured."
Iraqi TV showed the
dead soldiers lying on their backs near their vehicle.
One appeared to have been shot in the chest while the
other's wounds were unclear.
commanders were "shocked and appalled" by the graphic
images. The commander of
UK forces in the
Gulf, Air Marshal Brian Burridge, described the decision
to show them as "deplorable". He added: "All media must
be aware of the limits of taste and decency."
Sapper Luke and
Staff Sgt Cullingworth were members of 33 Engineer
Regiment - a bomb disposal unit of the Royal Engineers
based at Carver Barracks, Wimbish, Essex.
They were killed
after their Land Rover was ambushed in the border town
of Safwan, Southern Iraq.
Their role was to
clear mines laid by the retreating Iraqi army. They were
on their way to join colleagues sweeping for booby traps
when they were attacked.
Cullingworth and his wife Allison had been married for
almost 10 years. They have two sons - James, nine, and
The popular soldier
had been on tours of duty in other trouble spots,
including the Balkans and Afghanistan. Sapper Luke had
not seen action before, although he had served in Kenya
Last night his
long-term girlfriend Katie was being comforted by family
recalled last night how their mum, Christine, who died
of cancer seven months ago, always called him her
Michael Pawsey said: "The Army brought his wonderful
character to the fore.
"Before signing up
a couple of years ago, he was a car mechanic and
glorified panel beater.
everything about his new job - the camaraderie and sense
of achievement. The feeling that he was serving his
"Going to the Gulf,
he was doing what he wanted to do. We are numb at the
news. But so, so proud of him."