A British teenager has been murdered abroad. Why is David Cameron so quiet?
“I want people to know Tyrell’s life was important and that his death was senseless, unnecessary and brutal.” Not my words, but those of Tyrell Matthews-Burton’s mother, Sharon Matthews.
At present she is sat in a Greek court trying to piece together what action has been taken since her only son was stabbed to death on his 19th birthday in Malia last year.
Two other young British men sit accused of this crime, and a further 14 other UK nationals are also connected to the incident or charged with offences.
Despite the overwhelming British interests in ensuring a fair trial and active investigation, our government continues to sit on the sidelines and this incident remains stubbornly outside the public eye.
Those whose stories do capture the attention of news editors seem to have a very different experience. To great fanfare, this week the prime minister personally sent the Met to intervene in the investigation of the murder of two British citizens in Thailand. This disparity in attention and action in such cases should sit uneasily on our national conscience.
It is every parent’s nightmare for their child to go on holiday for the first time unsupervised and not return home. Tyrell and his friends were celebrating university places and birthdays. They did not know the young men now accused of his murder prior to that fateful evening, despite being falsely accused in the Greek press as gang members. Since Tyrell’s death, concerns about the nature of the investigation have grown.
The Greek authorities returned the clothes Tyrell was wearing when he was killed to his mother via the post. Questioning of ministers has uncovered that one of the accused of affray with connection to the fight was convicted in London of carrying a knife just five days before Tyrell’s death, yet allowed by the judge to suspend his sentence to go on holiday. UK-based witnesses were initially told they would have to pay their own costs to travel to give evidence in Greece. Requests to ensure the safety and security of those doing so have been left unanswered, meaning several have refused to participate.
A memorandum exists between the police, Foreign Office and UK coroners that states where a British national is killed and a British national charged with this crime overseas, the case can be tried in the UK. To date, requests for this to happen have been dismissed without consideration.
Tyrell’s family and friends have been tireless in seeking assistance from our government to address these concerns. As Sharon’s MP, I took her to look David Cameron in the eye and ask for his personal help, only to be told that the government cannot intervene in the investigative processes of other countries if their input is not requested.
Except, the cases of Madeleine McCann, and David Miller and Hannah Witheridge in Thailand, highlight that the government is in fact willing to break its own rules when it sees fit. To ask why these cases receive such attention isn’t to suggest that they should not, but to call for consistency in the concern shown from our consulates and officials. The amount of coverage a trial is given by the mainstream media should not be our guide in whether our citizens are fairly treated.
Lawyers this week in Greece confirmed that little forensic evidence has been recovered to try to identify who in the frantic nightclub melee wielded the knife that killed Tyrell. When I asked Cameron on Wednesday why he had not asked the police to help but had demanded their involvement in the investigation of the Thailand murders, he made a point of justifying this by saying the matter involved two British citizens.
Tyrell was a British citizen. It is still not too late for all of us to ask what happened to this young British man and how do we get justice for his British family as well, Cameron.