Alice Gross murder: Teenager’s family asks anti-immigration groups not to hijack her inquest

Family say they want to discover why Zalkalns was allowed into the UK, but do not want their daughter's death used for political point-scoring

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The Independent Online

The family of Alice Gross, the teenager murdered by a recent migrant to Britain, have urged anti-immigration groups not to exploit their daughter’s death for political gain.

In a statement, Alice's family said that while they wanted an inquest to consider whether her killer should have been allowed into Britain despite having a previous murder conviction, they did not want anti-immigration groups to hijack the case.

Their comments come after Scotland Yard said they would have charged Latvian builder Arnis Zalkalns with the 14-year-old's abduction and murder, had he been alive today.

Zalkalns’s was found dead shortly after Alice’s body was discovered in the River Brent, West London.

He was allowed to enter the UK in 2007, despite having served seven years for murdering his wife Rudite in Latvia.

In a statement, Alice's family said they had “serious unanswered questions” about what the authorities knew about Zalkalns, 41, and hope an inquest will look at the wider circumstances surrounding her death.

But they added: “Alice believed in the free movement of people and so do we. For her sake we are determined to ask these questions responsibly and sensitively.”

Emma Norton, legal officer for civil rights group Liberty, which is representing Alice's family at her forthcoming inquest, said the group has asked for the coronrer to consider the cause of her death as well as wider circumstances.

"In particular, the family wants to know what the authorities knew or ought to have known about Zalkalns when he travelled to the UK from Latvia," said Norton.

"The family is aware that this is a sensitive and difficult subject, and is concerned to ensure that it is not hijacked by groups with an anti-immigration agenda. The family believe in freedom of movement and human rights. That is why they approached Liberty and asked us to help them.

"We hope the coroner will agree that there are important questions that need to be answered, and we are waiting to hear from him."

An inquest into Alice's death has been opened and adjourned, but a date has not yet been fixed for it to be resumed.

Additional reporting by PA