Labour MP Bill Esterson 'disgusted' at Foreign Office's failure

Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson says he is disgusted in the Foreign Office's reluctance to help a Thornton mum and her two children escape Libya.

Jennifer Currie, 28, lives with her two children six-year-old Alisha and eight-month-old Nadia and her husband in Libya.

But fearing for their safety, Jennifer called on the Foreign Office for help in escaping the Middle Eastern country which is on the verge of civil war.

The family was stranded in the town of Gharyan which initially fell to the anti-Gaddafi rebels, but has since been reclaimed by state forces.

Despite repeated pleas to the Foreign Office, Jennifer failed to get any assurances that she would receive safe passage out.

Back home in Thornton, her family and friends turned to local Labour MP Bill Esterson for help.

Bill immediately contacted the Foreign Office, but he had to fight to get any assurances of help.

Bill said: "It is nothing short of disgusting how the Foreign Office have handled this case.

"We are talking about a British national and her two very young children who are literally petrified. My staff have been on the phone speaking to Jennifer and have been able to hear the gunshots going off outside her house.

"We simply could not leave anyone in danger like that. But that is exactly what the Foreign Office was going to do.

"We have had to fight every single step of the way on this, from getting guarantees that the flight would be provided to bring Jennifer and the children home to ensuring that she will be given transportation back from Heathrow to Thornton once she does finally land. This is a terrified young mum and two young girls we are talking about."

Jennifer and her two children are now on a flight out of Libya and are expected home in England on Monday.

Bill said: "I have been to see Jennifer's mum Gillian who is at her wits' end. She has obviously been through a lot knowing her daughter and granddaughters are in a war zone.

"But she is just delighted that they are finally on their way home.

"I am bitterly disappointed in how the Foreign Office has handled this whole affair and I will be speaking personally to the Foreign Secretary William Hague and raising the matter in the Commons.

"At one stage they appeared to wash their hands of the matter and it was left to my office to make contact with Jennifer and negotiate safe passage out. This simply is unacceptable.

"If ever a British National is stranded in a dangerous country like Jennifer, Nadia and Alicia were, then the government should be moving heaven and earth to get them home to safety,

"This clearly didn't happen in this case.

"We are just lucky that we were able to put pressure on from here and secure safe passage for all three of them. I'm sure all three will get a big hug from Gillian as soon as they finally get home.

"We are still trying to get the Foreign Office to get them home from the airport. So far they have refused to pay for a car. Given what Jennifer and her children have been through, I should have thought that the government would have found a way to help with transport home from the airport. So far we have a far from satisfactory suggestion of a church group driving her home. Now I am sure that her family are very grateful for the offer of help but why can't the government make an exception for an eight month old baby, her six year old sister and their mum? And the government plans to charge the family for the flights. The family should have had every help in escaping the war zone but instead we have had to fight every step of the way to get help."

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