Tunisia attack: Bodies of Britons killed in massacre to start returning home

Tunisian health officials said the identities of 25 Britons had now been confirmed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The bodies of Britons killed in the Tunisian beach massacre are to begin returning home, when an RAF flight lands at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that 22 UK national victims have been positively identified, while officials said they believe a further eight British nationals are among the dead but still to be identified.

Tunisian health officials said the identities of 25 Britons had now been confirmed. The bodies of victims will be brought to west London where an inquest into their deaths would be opened before the bodies are released to their next-of-kin. A single inquest covering all the British victims is to be opened by the West London Coroner.

 

Further repatriation flights are expected over the course of the week as bodies are released by the Tunisian authorities, Mr Hammond said.

Some of the families have been frustrated at the slow pace of identification. Under Tunisian law, after visual recognition, the identity of the corpses must be confirmed by DNA analysis and dental records. Efforts have been slowed by the time taken for UK dental records to arrive.

 

“It has been very difficult for everyone. We have very rigorous procedures [for the identification]. It’s a legal responsibility to prevent any errors,” said the psychologist Dr Anissa Bouasker, who has worked with relatives of the victims of both the Sousse and Bardo Museum attacks.

web-tunisia-5-pa.jpg
John Stollery, a social worker from Nottinghamshire, was among the Britons identified on Tuesday (PA)

Among the latest victims formally identified was John Stollery, 58, a social worker from Nottinghamshire, who was on holiday with his wife Cheryl and son when he was killed.

He had worked with children in care for Nottinghamshire County Council for 33 years. His wife Cheryl said: “John was special; he made a difference and gave his best to others. We, his family, are proud of him and deeply saddened that he was taken from us in such a horrific and tragic way. We still had a long life to live with plans and dreams for our future together. We love and miss him terribly and nothing will ever be the same again.”

A Crawley couple, Janet and John Stocker, aged 63 and 72, were also confirmed victims. In a statement their family said: “They were both young at heart and enjoyed all that life could offer, and especially enjoyed travelling to new places, exploring and appreciating local cultures, and they died together doing what they enjoyed most: sunbathing side by side.”

web-tunisia-3-pa.jpg
David Thompson, 80, a retired scientist from Tadley, Hampshire, is also believed to have been killed in the attack. The retired Atomic Weapons Establishment scientist has been described by his neighbours as a “wonderful man”.

Police Scotland confirmed the deaths of four Scots killed on the beach. Two, James McQuire, aged 66 and his wife Anne, 63, were from Cumbernauld, north Lanarkshire.  Also among the victims were Lisa and William Graham from Bankfoot, near Perth. The couple were celebrating Ms Graham’s 50th birthday.

Trudy Jones, 51, a care home worker from Blackwood in South Wales, was named as another as those killed. Gwent Police said Ms Jones was a divorced single mother of four on holiday with friends. Her family described her as their “beautiful mother”.

web-tunisia-4-mod.jpg
Military personnel attend to an injured British national on board the RAF aircraft flying back to the UK

All seriously injured Britons have now been flown out of Tunisia. Among them, Allison Heathcote, of Felixstowe, Suffolk, was operated on at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She was shot five times while her husband Philip, 52, was killed in the attack. The couple had gone to Tunisia to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

A spokesman for the hospital Trust said the 48-year-old had undergone five hours of surgery after suffering multiple gunshot wounds – three to her torso and two to her right arm and shoulder. The hospital described her condition as critical but stable.

The other injured patients are being treated at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and London’s St Mary’s Hospital, said Downing Street.

Mr Hammond revealed that the gunman responsible for the attack attended a terror training camp in Libya at the same time as the attackers who killed 22 people at the Bardo Museum in capital Tunis in March.

web-tunisia-2-getty.jpg
Holidaymakers lay flowers on Marhaba beach (Getty)

He blamed the spread of Isis in neighbouring Libya for the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Tunisia.

The Foreign Secretary said co-operation with the Tunisian officials would be stepped up to protect Western tourists.

His comments came as a major counter-terrorism exercise was carried out in London to ensure emergency services are ready “should the worst happen”, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said.

A mock terrorist firearms attack was staged in the capital to test the response to a Tunisian-style mass shooting.

Comments