British victims of terror abroad call for Government help
17 April 2007
Approximately 50 British families who suffered terror attacks while on holiday abroad since 2002 have expressed disappointment at the lack of government support offered during their time of need. The level of support offered to the families by the government differed greatly when they sought help with repatriating bodies, medical expenses, funeral costs, long term counselling and compensation for loss of earnings.
Trevor Lakin, who lost his son Jeremy in the Sharm el Sheikh 2005 terror atrocity, said: “While nothing will bring our son back to us, we want to ensure that other families who face similar tragedies in the future receive the help they need. Dealing with this on our own has been intolerable.”
Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said: "A lot is said by politicians about victims of crime in general and victims of terrorism in particular. Here is a welcome opportunity for politicians of all colours to unite in putting fairly modest sums of money where their mouths are. Warm words and draconian legislation don't help people rebuild their lives. This bill could."
In 2005 the Prime Minister said he would consider setting up a compensation scheme for British victims of terrorism overseas, but to date no Government plan has been announced. The majority of insurance companies maintain a “terrorism exclusion clause” which makes insurance an unreliable option for victims.
What: Press conference held by British victims of overseas terrorism calling for government assistance scheme
When: 11:30 – 12:00 Thursday 19 April 2007
Where: Houses of Parliament, Moses Room (beside the Chamber)
Who: Speakers include: Lord Brennan QC tabled the Victims of Overseas Terrorism Private Members Bill which will receive its second reading on Friday 20 April; Glenn Shadbolt was critically injured in the Sharm el Sheikh bombings in 2004 when he was 20 years old. He has had numerous operations, suffers from stress and can no longer attend university; Sharon Holden lost her daughter and four of her family members were critically injured in a terror attack in Turkey in 2005. Her family are still recovering and have received insufficient financial help from the Government; Trevor Lakin’s son Jeremy was killed in Sharm el Sheikh in 2005 and he has campaigned tirelessly for an adequate Government help scheme for victims’ families. Photos of the families and their loved ones are available for journalists.
Details of other victims and their families who will attend the press conference can be found in Notes to Editors below.
Contact: Jen Corlew on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 383 1128
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Lord Brennan’s Victims of Overseas Terrorism Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Lords on Friday 20 April 2007. The bill would create a UK statutory scheme providing advice, assistance and compensation in respect of injuries sustained in terrorist incidents outside the UK by creating an Overseas Terrorism Award Scheme. This will be the first time since the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in the USA that Parliament has debated this issue despite the terrorist attacks on innocent British holiday-makers abroad. For a copy of Liberty’s briefing on the Bill go to www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk
2. Victims of Overseas Terrorism and their families at the press conference include: John and Angela Corke: Their daughter, Annalie Vickers, 31, was killed in the bomb blast in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with her boyfriend, Jez Lakin. They have both been emotionally devastated by her death. Angela has returned to work part time but John has been unable to cope with new projects at work and is still reducing his workload. Their insurers paid for repatriation of the body and their expenses and loss of belongings but there has been no compensation due to the terrorism exclusion clause. Peter and Julie Fulham: Their son, Matthew, was 17-years-old when he was killed in the bombings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The Disasters & Emergencies Charity paid for his body to be repatriated but their insurance firm had a terrorism exclusion clause. Peter had to search for his son's body in the rubble caused by the explosion. Both Peter and Julie were on medication and their 3 other children have been affected. Peter has taken early retirement and Julie has been unable to return to work on a full-time basis.Sharon Holden and Toni Pushon: Sharon's daughter Helyn Louise Bennett was killed as a result of a bomb blast in Kusadasi, Turkey. Sharon has suffered severe depression following Helyn's death. The Turkish Government repatriated Helyn’s body and Sharon received no financial assistance for funeral costs from either the British Government or from their insurer, Axa, who relied on the terrorism exclusion clause. After lengthy legal representation Sharon received an ex gratia payment from Axa. Toni, Sharon's sister, along with four other members of her family, was injured in the bomb that killed Helyn. Toni suffered burns, nerve damage from shrapnel, fractured eye socket and burst eardrums. She now has permanent damage to her left eye and ear. Toni's partner, Michael suffered severe injuries – he his unable to use his left hand due to a severed tendon and bone damage; his left leg was blown away at the front and is being rebuilt using muscle from his stomach and bone from his hip; he has permanently lost part of the feeling in his foot; he suffers from electrical type surges of pain as a result of nerve damage. Michael cannot walk unaided. They have received no compensation or financial assistance from the Government. Trevor and Jill Lakin: Their son, Jeremy (Jez) Lakin, 28, was killed in the bomb blast in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with his girlfriend, Annalie Vickers. They have both been emotionally devastated by his death as have his two brothers. Neither Jill nor Trevor has returned to full time work. Their insurers paid for repatriation of the body, Trevor and Jill’s original travel expenses to Egypt were paid by the tour operator and insurers. There has been no compensation for loss of life due to the terrorism exclusion clause in both Jez’s travel policies – Fortis and Axa. Glenn and Ian Shadbolt: Glenn was badly injured in the 23rd July 2005 Sharm el Sheik attack, flown to Cairo as he was in a critical condition. After three days he was flown to London where his injuries were found to be badly infected and required 71/2 hours surgery. Glenn suffered chest, arms, face, neck and eye injuries. He was transferred to Moorfield eye hospital for a further 41/2 hours surgery to his eyes. He has since lost the sight of his right eye. He spent three weeks in London hospitals. No financial aid was given to his parents who had to provide themselves with accommodation in London. Glenn has also lost all his belongings and has not received any insurance payment. He has used all his savings and is now in debt with little hope of being able to repay the loans. Glenn continues to have glass removed from his body as it gradually comes to the surface. Kevin Smith: Kevin was injured in the bombing in Marmaris last August, suffered burns and a variety of other injuries, and has been left with one leg shorter than the other. Like others involved in the bombing, he attempted to claim compensation from the Turkish authorities under the state compensation scheme there, but had to abandon his application when it emerged that the costs of instructing local lawyers, notarising documents etc would vastly exceed the maximum 1,000 Euros he could have been awarded. (This cap doesn't apply to people who are more seriously disabled by their injuries.) The legal fees/expenses that he did incur were not met by his insurers, who chose to rely on a terrorism exclusion clause. Kevin is self-employed, so has not received sick leave payments. He has therefore lost a lot of income as a result of his injuries. His daughter, his partner, and his partner's two children were also injured in the bombing, but not as severely as he was.
3. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport, through the administration of the British Red Cross, is believed to be in the process of establishing a charitable emergency relief fund for UK victims of terrorism abroad, but critics fear that the £1 million pledged to this fund will fall short of their needs. DCMS Minister Tessa Jowell has stressed that this fund will not provide compensation for victims.
4. Link to the Prime Minister’s comments about providing assistance for British victims of terrorism overseas: http://www.downingstreetsays.org/archives/001870.html.
5. In 2006 an Early Day Motion lodged by Alistair Carmichael MP calling on the Government to extend the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to include all UK citizens who are victims of terrorism received 106 cross-party signatures.
6. The Pro Bono Unit of Lovells International law firm is acting on a pro bono basis for a number of British victims of terrorism abroad and facilitated input from their clients into the Victims of Overseas Terrorism Private Members Bill.