Foreign Office ‘blindsided’ by coroner’s critical remarks after Qatar inquest

Raffy Tsakanika, 21, from Cambridge, died after the car she was a passenger in was hit from behind near Doha in March 2019.

An official claimed the Foreign Office was “blindsided” by a coroner’s critical remarks after an inquest into the death of a young British woman in Qatar, a spokesman for the victim’s family has said.

Raffy Tsakanika, 21, from Cambridge, died after the car she was a passenger in was hit from behind by a second vehicle near Doha in March 2019.

Her family say they have been “badly let down”, both by the Qatari authorities, and by the British Government for not doing more.

The second vehicle, which was speeding, caused the first to lose control and overturn on a four-lane carriageway. It did not stop at the scene.

Rafaelle Tsakanika death
Raffy Tsakanika, who was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Qatar (Family handout/PA)

The driver, Qatari national Mubarak Al Hajri, was sentenced in his home country to two months in prison and ordered to pay compensation to the Tsakanika family.

At a UK inquest last year, a coroner criticised Qatari authorities for the lack of information provided.

Ms Tsakanika’s stepfather, Donal Sullivan, has seen the Qataris have further evidence that has not been disclosed, Radd Seiger, a spokesman for the family said.

Mr Seiger said he, Mr Sullivan and Ms Tsakanika’s mother Jo Sullivan met with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Tuesday.

During the meeting, an FCDO official claimed they were “blinded by the publicity after the conclusion of the inquest and the coroner’s critical remarks”, Mr Seiger said.

The inquest was told speed cameras caught Al Hajri’s car apparently undamaged shortly before the crash and damaged shortly afterwards, but these images were not provided to the UK coroner by Qatari authorities.

Ms Tsakanika’s family are pressing for a meeting with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations at the FCDO.

They want him to raise the case with the Qataris at the highest level in an attempt to get CCTV footage they say the Qataris have.

If the Qataris refuse to disclose further material, the family wants the FCDO to amend travel advice to Qatar to warn people how they could be treated.

Mrs Sullivan said after the FCDO meeting: “I do not understand why we are being so badly let down by both the Qatari and our own British Government.

“It is impossible to describe how painful life is each and every day without Raffy, but to not know how she died when the Qataris have all that evidence in their own hands and are refusing to hand it over, while the FCDO simply stand by and watch, just makes it all a thousand times worse.”

Mr Seiger said the family has been “treated barbarically by the Qataris without the FCDO raising barely a finger to intervene”.

“We have read the riot act to them after this latest awful meeting and now expect them to fulfil their duty to represent Raffy’s family’s interests rather than trying to not offend the Qataris,” he said.

“This scandal has been more than four years in the making and must now be resolved at the highest levels and we look forward to getting a meeting with Lord Ahmad in the diary without delay.”

An FCDO spokesperson said: “FCDO staff have offered support to Ms Tsakanika’s family since her death in 2019.

“We have raised this case with the Qatari authorities on multiple occasions, including at ministerial level.

“We continue to offer them further support. This was a private meeting between FCDO consular officials and Ms Tsakanika’s family and their representative.”

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