The Scotsman

MP claims that UK families are ‘abandoned’ after loved ones die overseas

- By JOHN JEFFAY

SCOTLAND should go it alone and look after the “abandoned” families of people who die abroad, according to an SNP MP.

Hannah Bardell, chairwoman of a cross-party Westminste­r group on deaths abroad, said too many people had been failed by the Foreign Office who she claimed often treat the issue as “a problem rather than a duty”.

Ms Bardell has taken evidence from more than 40 families affected by the loss of a loved one overseas, including the parents of Kirsty Maxwell from West Lothian, who fell to her death from a tenth floor balcony in Spain.

The Livingston MP is now pushing for the Scottish authoritie­s to play a bigger role.

The proposal would see either Police Scotland or Victim Support Scotland providing dedicated family liaison officers to guide families through the stress of dealing with issues, such as repatriati­ng the body.

Ms Bardell, who held talks with the police about the proposal last week, also plans to lobby the Scottish Government for funding for translatio­n services. Around 600 UK citizens die overseas every year and 10 per cent of these are regarded as suspicious, according to Bardell. She said: “We are leaving people at the worst point of their lives, frankly, abandoned. In the case of Kirsty Maxwell, the family was given a note of local lawyers, but no detail of which ones spoke English and what they specialise­d in.”

Kirsty’s dad Brian Curry said: “When Kirsty died, we as a family naively thought that we’d get the same level of support as if it’s happened in the UK.

“That didn’t happen. We hope to see much-needed change to support this family and other families unfortunat­e enough to be in these circumstan­ces.”

The FCO said: “Our staff across the globe work with dedication and empathy to support British nationals when they require our assistance.”

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