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Families hope for answers as inquests into Tunisia terrorist attack set to begin

News | Wed 11th Jan, 2017

Families who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia, 18 months ago, hope the Inquests which begin on Monday 16th January will provide answers, about exactly what happened and whether any more could have been done to prevent the tragedy.

The Inquests into the deaths of 30 Britons who died in the terrorist attack on 26th June 2015 in Tunisia will open in court 38 at the Royal Courts of Justice at 10:30am and are expected to last for seven weeks.

The Coroner, His Honour Judge Loraine-Smith, will hear evidence from witnesses including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), senior executives at tour operator TUI and management from the Imperial Marhaba Hotel. Evidence directly related to each of those who died will be reviewed along with a computerised model of the hotel. Hours of video footage from major media companies has also been reviewed by the Inquest team.

Andrew Ritchie QC of 9 Gough Chambers with assistance from Katherine Deal of 3 Hare Court will represent the interests of 20 families at the Inquests. They have been appointed by specialist international personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.

Irwin Mitchell is also representing many British holidaymakers who were injured both physically and psychologically during the attack.

The Coroner has committed to hearing as much evidence as possible in public, a move praised by the families, although some evidence may need to be considered behind closed doors due to its sensitivity in preventing future terrorist attacks.

Andrew Ritchie, QC says: “These inquests will seek to answer important questions for the families, in particular: how their loved ones came to be exposed to terrorism at the 5 star hotel; whether TUI communicated Foreign & Commonwealth Office terrorism warnings to their customers before or after bookings; the security arrangements (if any) in place at the Imperial Hotel and whether the holiday insurance sold by TUI to customers covered terrorism.”

“The families seek the truth and respect the coronial system and the hard work put into the preparation of the evidence by the UK Police. They wish to see a better warning system in place to prevent future deaths and so that holidaymakers can make better-informed decisions when purchasing holidays abroad.”

Clive Garner, head of the international personal injury team at Irwin Mitchell representing the families affected, says: “For 18 months the families have been anxious to understand what happened to their loved ones and whether any more could have been done to prevent this terrible tragedy. Some of the families we represent have lost two or more family members. Many of our clients have had their lives turned upside down and remain heart broken. Many have needed specialist therapy to help them, others have lost the main breadwinner in the family and have real financial worries.”

“Obviously nothing can turn back the clock but these Inquests provide the opportunity for our clients to receive answers to the questions that they want and need. The families are grateful to the Coroner for his thoroughness and for ensuring there is such an extensive array of evidence and witnesses that will be involved.”

“There are serious concerns and questions about what was done in the face of what appears to have been an escalating threat of terrorist activity in Tunisia prior to these fateful events in Sousse. It is important that lessons are learned from this tragic incident to reduce the risk of similar tragedies in future.”

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