Call for inquiry into Glasgow tower suicides

Charities demand changes to immigration policy after death of Russian asylum-seekers
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The Independent Online

Demands for a public inquiry into the deaths of three failed asylum-seekers who leapt from a high-rise tower block in Glasgow grew yesterday as charities called for urgent changes to the Government's immigration policy.

Protesters gathered outside the UK Border Agency offices in Govan to express their shock following the deaths of the father, mother and their 21-year-old son who were originally from Russia. They were found at the bottom of a 31-storey block in the soon-to be-demolished Red Road complex on Petershill Drive in the Springburn area of the city on Sunday morning.

Robina Qureshi, director of the Glasgow-based charity Positive Action in Housing said it was a "normal occurrence" for families fearing deportation to come to her organisation and threaten suicide rather than return to their home country.

"They are facing the threat of being made destitute, they can't claim any benefits, they can't work, they can't access any homelessness services," she said. "We are calling for a public inquiry into the suicide that took place as there could be more instances like this," she added.

John Wilkes, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, called for improvements and greater clarity in the system for granting asylum. He also urged better decision making and fewer appeals so that families would not be left confused by the process.

Police were still trying to trace relatives of the dead family, who were named locally as the Serykhs. Claims that they had been tied together when they jumped were dismissed yesterday and foul play has been ruled out.

But it emerged that the father, who it was reported had been suffering from delusions, made a series of bizarre claims on leaving Canada in 2007 where they had been granted leave to stay two years earlier. He fell out with the Canadian authorities when he alleged that they were swapping top-level secrets with Vladimir Putin and using "psychotronic drugs" in an attempt to alter his mind. Before arriving in Glasgow last autumn they had travelled through Germany, Holland, Spain and Ireland. Once they reached London they contacted an MP claiming the Canadian Prime Minister was plotting against the Queen.

The family moved in to the Glasgow flat in February but they were told to move out after their application to remain in the UK was refused.

Among those who took part in the demonstration yesterday was former socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan who said he was "ashamed" over the deaths. "If you are not shocked and ashamed by what happened, I think you need to question your own humanity. It is hard to explain the depths of despair they must have felt," he said.

Neighbours continued to pay tribute to the dead family. Faridh Pardak, a former teacher from Iran, said: "I want to know what happened to them. They were a good family."