A YORK couple told today why they are backing their daughter's plans to become a human shield in Iraq.

John and Mairi McCormick - who both served in the Second World War - say they do not believe an American attack on Iraq would be a just war.

The couple, of Huntington Road, who formerly lived at Hovingham, said they hoped their daughter Antoinette's actions might just help prevent hostilities breaking out.

Antoinette, 38, told the Evening Press on Thursday that she planned to join a convoy of anti-war activists which was set to travel from London to Baghdad next month. She said she hoped their presence in Iraq would deter a bombing campaign.

"It's a grand gesture, and grand gestures sometimes work," said her father, 84, an American who commanded anti-submarine ships for the U.S. Navy in the Second World War.

He said: "It's good for her. It's brave, not crazy."

Mrs McCormick, 78, who was a Wren in the latter part of the war, said: "She is a grown woman and has made up her own mind about this evil war.

"In fact, it isn't a war. It's an invasion of one country by another one.

"I think Blair's backing for the U.S. is ridiculous."

The couple said they obviously had concerns for their daughter's safety, and about how she would even get to Iraq, but they also expressed confidence in Antoinette's ability to deal with whatever arose.

"She is very confident and practical," said Mrs McCormick, while her husband said Antoinette was "level-headed".

Mr McCormick said: "I don't want to lose my daughter."

He said he was not a pacifist, and believed the war he was involved in had been a just one. "I don't think war in Iraq could possibly be that," he said. "It's very different."

Updated: 11:17 Saturday, January 25, 2003