Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Will Pike, by Linda Grant

On November 27th I received an early morning email from a friend with the subject line: Oh God. It was from a friend, Nigel Pike, whose son Will was trapped in a hotel room in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai with his girlfriend Kelly, on a one-night stay after a beach holiday in Goa. Terrorists were going from room to room looking for British and American guests to execute. After hiding for five hours in the bathroom, the terrorists had set fire to the corridor outside while a hand grenade was going off in the next room. With no choices left, they made a make-shift rope out of bed sheets and Will went first to test the weight. The knots didn’t hold, and he fell sixty feet. He is paralysed from the waist down and is likely to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Has he been injured in a car accident, a work-place accident or in a terrorist attack on British soil, he would have been entitled to compensation of £2m Because the attack took place abroad, he has been offered a final one-off payment of £15,000 from a Red Cross fund. That’s it. As Labour MP and former Foreign Office minister Ian McCartney, told the Observer: "The situation is totally unacceptable. Terrorism is an attack not on individuals but on a state, as Mumbai made clear. A state's duty is to its citizens."

In the Observer, Will’s story is told in full, brutal, shocking detail. You can read my report here.

Ned Temko’s interviews with cross party politicians here

And the Observer’s leader comment here.

Today Will and Kelly launched an appeal – to change the government’s mind about its refusal to help those injured in terrorist attacks abroad, and to appeal for funds for their immediate situation. I hope you will have a chance to look at their website, even if you can’t donate. It's here.

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