Family ‘kept in dark’ after Lara’s death

Lara Jones, from Goosnargh, who died while travelling in Cuba
Lara Jones, from Goosnargh, who died while travelling in Cuba
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The mother of a Lancashire teacher murdered abroad has backed a report slamming the Foreign Office’s services to grieving families.

Lara Jones, of Goosnargh, near Preston, was murdered in Cuba in 2012, strangled by a worker at the Havana hostel where she stayed.

But her mother, Carolyn Rayner, says the family received no help from the Foreign Office, and in fact officials added to the “trauma and confusion” following the murder of 26-year-old Lara.

Now MPs have published a highly critical report of consular services abroad, saying that families had been “entirely let down”.

Ms Rayner said: “In our case the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were at best wholly incompetent.

“They provided untimely and inaccurate advice, a direct consequence of which was our family being unable to appoint a lawyer or attend the trial. They sat on reports from the Cuban authorities, a direct consequence of which was the delay of vital information to the coroner’s office in the UK.”

Lara’s family were initially told only that she had died, not that her death was suspicious.

It took six weeks before they were finally informed that she had died from strangulation, although the Cuban authorities had begun a murder investigation immediately after her death.

Today’s report to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee found that Ms Rayner’s experience is far from unusual and slammed FCO services as leaving families feeling “entirely let down”. It recommends sweeping changes to the system for dealing with bereaved families.