Row over compensation to UK victims of 26/11

UK is reconsidering a scheme that allows compensation to 26/11 victims.

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 16:32 PM IST

London: As part of the ongoing public
spending review to cut costs, the David Cameron government is
reconsidering a scheme that allows compensation to British
victims of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and other
incidents abroad.

Eight Britons were injured in the Mumbai attacks,
including Will Pike, 29, who was left paralysed and confined
to a wheelchair after being caught up in the bombings and
subsequent siege of the Taj hotel.

The previous Labour government had amended the law
that enabled British victims of terrorism overseas to claim
compensation.

Calling the reported shift in policy `an insult`, Pike
told The Observer: "I will be in a wheelchair for the rest of
my life, so this is isn`t a matter of choice for me; I was the
victim of an attack on my country.
The terrorists hit that hotel because it was full of
western tourists. I was injured because I had a British
passport, which turned out to be bloody worthless as soon as I
got home."

Campaigners called the reported shelving of plans to
help Pike and 300 or so other British victims of attacks
abroad over the past few years as `outrageous`.

Changes to rules were made under the Labour
government, with support from various parties.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Following the
Ministry of Justice`s Spending Review settlement, ministers
are reviewing all victims` services and considering where best
to allocate funds.
No final decisions have been mad. This government
believes that support should be offered to the most serious,
most vulnerable and most persistently targeted victims of
crime, ensuring that those who actually need support, receive
it."

Announcing the amendment to the law before the general
election, the then justice secretary Jack Straw said:

"Terrorism is intended as a political statement and an attack
on society as a whole. Therefore it is right that, as a
tangible expression of sympathy, society should compensate the
victims of terrorist attacks abroad."

Lord Brennan, a Labour peer who has campaigned
extensively on this issue, said not paying Pike and others
compensation "shamed" Britain.

He said: "If those injured here are paid compensation,
then it should be the case that those injured abroad in the
past are not ignored.

In the midst of this grave recession, with the
campaign against terrorism continuing, to forget these people
is simply unforgiveable treatment. This could have been any
one of us on a foreign journey."

PTI