» Thursday, December 3, 2009

Letters to grieving families of soldiers

Asked about condolence letters that had not been sent out to grieving families who had lost their loved ones in 2007, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the Prime Minister had apologised unreservedly for this unacceptable error at the press conference this morning. A letter had not been sent, the Prime Minister was made aware and he wrote to the families immediately. The Prime Minister had also ordered a review to be set up to find out if there were any other cases and how the mistake had happened so as to ensure it wouldn’t happened again.

Asked how the Prime Minister did not know about this when he read the names out of those who had died every week at Prime Minister’s Questions, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had asked for an immediate review of the process. No one was suggesting that this was anything other than an unacceptable error. Our thoughts were with all families who had suffered a loss through conflict and the Prime Minister wrote to people personally because he believed it was the right thing to do.

Asked if there were any other families who had not received letters, the PMS said that there were three from 2007 but we would not give out any further details.

Asked if there were any cases from 2008/09, the PMS said that we were looking at the whole situation; a review was underway and if there were any other letters then they would be dealt with in exactly the same way.

Asked if any sort of pattern had been determined as to why these three particular families had not received letters, the PMS said no, there did not appear to be a pattern.

Asked if the letters had never been sent or if it had been the case that they were sent but got lost on the way to their destination, the PMS said that the letters had not been sent.

Asked if the Prime Minister had written to the two remaining families, the PMS said that the letters had been dispatched.

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about comments from a family who said that they had received the Prime Minister’s letter of condolence with a typed letter of apology for the delay from the Prime Minister’s private secretary, Jeremy Heywood, rather than the Prime Minister, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had apologised unreservedly. The letter from Jeremy Heywood, one of the most senior civil servants at No 10, had apologised on behalf of the Government and accompanied the handwritten letter from the Prime Minister.

Asked how it came to happen that these three letters were never sent, the PMS said that that was exactly why we had set up a review and the most important thing was to ensure that any outstanding letters were sent as appropriate and dealt with in the right way.

Asked how the situation regarding the first letter had come to light, the PMS said that the family concerned had contacted a broadcaster.

Asked how long the review was likely to take, the PMS said that it was underway now and nearly complete. As it was about internal No 10 processes we would not get into detail but we wanted to assure the public that we were working to make sure this didn’t happen again.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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