Victims' families told: try suing bombers

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The Independent Online

Trevor Lakin's 28-year-old son Jeremy was among 10 Britons killed in the attacks in July at the popular Egyptian tourist destination. Jeremy's girlfriend Annalie Vickers also died.

In his first interview since identifying his son's body, Mr Lakin revealed that many of the injured Britons have been unable to return to work and are facing financial hardship, while others are struggling to cover funeral expenses. He said the Government's attitude towards the forgotten victims of the terror attacks, who under existing laws are not eligible for compensation, "stinks".

"People in Egypt got zero," said Mr Lakin, from Bourne in Lincolnshire, who is planning to bring action against the Government along with other families.

"Families are having trouble finding money for funerals and there are people having trouble surviving while they try to get back to work. If you are British you should be supported by the British Government."

Both France and Italy have recently introduced new laws to provide payouts to those who may have sustained serious injuries or lost relatives in terror attacks abroad, but Britain has refused to adopt a similar scheme.

The families of the Sharm el-Sheikh victims have been sent letters by the Government advising them instead to approach the perpetrators of the bomb attacks, which killed more than 60 people, or travel insurance companies, although insurers are not obliged to pay up in the case of terror attacks.

This comes as the Government is also facing intense criticism for withdrawing benefits from victims of the London bombings who have received payouts from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). A letter seen by this paper, written by the anti-fraud minister James Plaskitt, states that the Government "is not liable" for injuries caused to British victims of crime abroad and that anyone receiving payments from the CICA would have their benefit payments "adjusted accordingly".

Solicitors acting for the London bombing victims warn that this could mean they could have their benefits docked even if they receive help with funeral costs.

The Solicitors Pro Bono Group, a charity which encourages lawyers to provide free legal aid, has now written to David Blunkett demanding that the rules are amended to take into account exceptional circumstances such as terrorist atrocities.

Robert Gill, a spokesman, said he had already come across cases where people would lose benefits and accused the Government of "moral wrongness". "In the present climate it is time to review this policy," he said.

"It seems to me that for the pleasure of having your leg blown off you will have your benefits cut. There also needs to be financial protection for the British victims of terror overseas."

A spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions said that all payments to victims of violent crime are treated in the same way "to be fair to all parties".