Monday, 13 August 2018 05:03

“FOREIGN OFFICE MUST SUPPORT FAMILIES OF LOST LOVED ONES ABROAD”

Hannah Bardell MP has said she will continue to fight for support from the Foreign Office for bereaved families who lose a loved one abroad. 

Speaking on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme this morning following the death of another British citizen, Tom Channon, the MP called on the Foreign office to listen to the experiences of families who’ve lost loved ones abroad and put more investment into frontline Consular support services.

Hannah Bardell MP has written to the new Foreign Secretary to highlight the work of her All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Deaths Abroad and Consular Services and says their interim report will be, ‘in the post’ shortly. 

The APPG was set up after Ms Bardell had a second family in her Livingston constituency blighted by the trauma and tragedy of losing a loved one while overseas. Her constituent Deborah Pearson lost her niece Julie in Israel 2015, believed to have been killed by her ex-partner, and just over a year ago Kirsty Maxwell, a young woman from Livingston, was killed in Spain in suspicious circumstances. 

Commenting after her interview Ms Bardell said:

"I was so taken aback by the lack of support from the Foreign and Commonwealth office and UK Government for both of the families in my constituency I felt more had to be done. I’ve held a debate in Parliament, asked the Prime Minster twice about my constituents and very little has happened - now we need some action.

“The APPG was established just over 2 months ago and we have taken evidence from over 40 families in London and Glasgow. Each familys’ experience brings with it different and harrowing details, but the common theme is almost everyone felt there was very little support from the FCO and no clear processes or procedures. 

“I’ve had constituents have their loved ones clothes destroyed by local police, very little support to find a lawyer, poor levels of communication and above all a basic lack of dignity and respect. 

“Families deserve the best possible service when facing such a huge trauma and for them to be treated in such a disrespectful way speaks volumes about how little this UK Government and the Foreign Office cares for its own citizens. 

“We recognise Consular staff operate under severe pressure with limited resources and that’s why the Foreign Secretary needs to up his game and ensure that his staff are properly resources and trained.

“We already have a clear idea of changes we want; support with translation services, support and advice on repatriation and a single point of contact for families - at the very least. There are also other improvements we feel the airlines and airports, insurers and others can assist us with in terms of how families are treated when they go to recover the bodies of their loved ones.

“Changes will take quite a lot of work and effort, which the cross party group of MP’s are very focused on, but as long as I’m elected I’ll fight for my constituents.

"We’ve had excellent support from Julie Love who set up ‘Death Abroad You’re Not Alone' (DAYNA) and Eve Henderson who set up Murdered Abroad. Both women lost a loved one and we are working with them and others to get real action and support so no family has to go through what they or the Family of Tom Channon have recently experienced.”

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