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Bereaved mum demands action after critical Foreign Office report

The mother of a man from the Borders who died abroad has welcomed a report critical of the way British diplomats treat families going through bereavement.

The inquiry said many relatives found Foreign Office staff to be rude, incompetent and insensitive. Julie Sheppard from near Selkirk is one of the main campaigners for change. Our reporter Matthew Taylor has the story.

Foreign Office respond to report concerns

The mother of a man from the Borders who died abroad has welcomed a report critical of the way British diplomats treat families going through bereavement.

Julie Sheppard said staff were unhelpful when the body of her son Andrew was returned from France without his heart or his brain. A Foreign Affairs Select Committee report shows many relatives found consular staff to be 'rude, incompetent and insensitive'.

The Foreign Office offered the following statement:

"We are always looking to improve our services, and we have already freed-up staff on the ground to focus on those who most need assistance, developed online services and improved our crisis response so we can get faster support to those who urgently need it."

– Statement from the Foreign Office

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'They want you out of their hair as quickly as possible'

Julie Sheppard's son Andrew Watt, who was from Durham, was found dead in a lane in France in 2010. Credit: ITV Border

A family from the Borders has welcomed a report that criticises the way consular staff abroad treat bereaved relatives.

Julie Sheppard's son died from a heart attack while in France - but she says she got no assistance.

The Foreign Office said it meets every family, but the report highlighted concerns that some of its staff were insensitive and incompetent.

Read: Grieving families protest outside Foreign Office

"They basically want you out of their hair as quickly as possible. It's really unpleasant as a mum losing her son, to feel uncomfortable about ringing up because you feel you're a nuisance."

– Julie Sheppard, Andrew's mother

Border region troops train in Poland

Troops from the Border region are among hundreds currently on a training exercise in Poland. The Army says it's to show Eastern European states that they can be confident they'll get help should they need it.

The promise through NATO comes as political tensions with Russia increase. The exercise is called Operation Black Eagle and as David Wood reports it has more importance than a routine training exercise.

Two 'serious but stable' after crash

Two people are in hospital with serious injuries after a crash between two cars near Carlisle.

It happened at half past 7 last night (Nov 20th) just east of the Thursby roundabout on the A596.

The police say a silver Vauxhall Vectra, driven by a 22-year-old man from Maryport, and a silver Ford Mondeo, driven by a 67-year-old woman from Carlisle, were travelling in opposite directions when they collided.

Both were taken to hospital in Carlisle where they remain in a serious but stable condition.

The road was closed for four and a half hours.

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'Hotel fine' couple 'furious' at charge

Tony and Jan Jenkinson had a £100 extra charged to their credit card after they called the Broadway Hotel a 'filthy, stinking hovel" after staying there.

When they queried it they were told there was a 'no bad review' policy in the terms and conditons.

Jan told Granada Reports she was "furious" at the charge.

Hotel review couple to be refunded

The hotel reportedly had a 'no bad review' policy. Credit: ITV

A couple "fined" by a hotel after they wrote a damning review about it are to be given a refund, a council has said.

Tony and Jan Jenkinson said they were charged an extra £100 after describing the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool as a "filthy, stinking hovel" on TripAdvisor.

Blackpool Council said today that they understood that the hotel will reimburse them, as well as scrapping the policy.

"Our trading standards team became aware of this issue last week.

As a result, we have spoken to the hotel owner and asked for the policy to be removed, which has now happened.

This is a unique case and not one that we have come across before."

– Gillian Campbell, cabinet member responsible for public protection at the local authority

The couple, from Whitehaven in Cumbria, had been attempting to recoup the money through their credit card company.

They complained to Cumbria Trading Standards officials, who passed the matter to counterparts in Blackpool.

The hotel could not be reached for comment. Its website appeared to be down.

Trip Advisor respond to £100 bad review fine

Trip Advisor allows people to review hotels online. Credit: PA

A hotel in Blackpool has charged a couple £100 for leaving a negative review online.

Tony and Jan Jenkinson from Whitehaven claim £100 was charged to their credit card for going against the 'no bad review' policy of the hotel.

A spokesperson for Trip Advisor says this is 'against the spirit and policies of our site':

"While, thankfully, such instances are very rare, it is completely against the spirit and policies of our site for any business owner to attempt to bully or intimidate reviewers who have had a negative experience.

Where we find evidence of a business doing so, we will take action to protect the integrity of our site."

– James Kay, Trip Advisor spokesperson
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