Lack of clarity from police following Bournemouth tragedy led to 'wild speculation', says MP

Tobias Ellwood MP acknowledges that the police need to be cautious during an investigation but explained "limited information" was released. Credit: PA

A lack of initial clarity from police led to "wild speculation" about the circumstances surrounding the death of two people off the coast of Bournemouth, an MP has said.

Joe Abbess, 17, and 12-year-old Sunnah Khan died in hospital after being pulled from the water at Bournemouth on Wednesday 31 May.

Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, acknowledges that the police need to be cautious during an investigation but explained "limited information" was released.

He said: "But this wasn't followed up with any simple summary that would allow other visitors and residents to place this huge major incident into context and maybe allow parents to assess themselves is it safe to return to our beach which clearly it was.

"So I think the absence of that initial clarity has led to wild, I mean wild, speculation from jet ski incidents to migrant boats, to people jumping off the pier and I think that's been very, very unhelpful indeed.

"I think we also need to learn from this and say perhaps is there a better way for us to allow people to be informed without prejudicing the inquiry, the investigation itself."

He added: "I have been frequently in touch (with Dorset Police) to try and encourage some form of clarity as to what's going on. We're now five days beyond the incident itself there's still no formal clarity whatsoever.

"We need to be able to end the speculation in today's day and age when we're all able to film or make comment or share views to place things into context.

"I think that's my simple request without impeding on the incredibly difficult work that we understand the police must now go through."

It follows a huge multiagency response on Bournemouth beach on Wednesday 31 May.

The inquests into the deaths of Sunnah, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Joe, from Southampton in Hampshire, were formally opened and adjourned by the Bournemouth coroner today.

The inquest heard initial post mortem examinations revealed the provisional cause of death for both of them was drowning.

Nicola Muller, the coroner's assistant, confirmed reports of a sudden riptide in the sea at the time of the tragedy.

Mr Ellwood gave "huge praise" for the first responders, police, coastguard, air ambulance, and members of the public who were there on the day of the incident.

Mr Ellwood still wants people to visit Bournemouth

Speaking about whether people should feel safe going to Bournemouth beach, he said: "Bournemouth is an incredible seaside resort, it's got a long history of being so popular, not least on a national basis but internationally as well.

"Eight miles of beach, it's a beautiful place to go it's subject to the advice of the coastguard.

"It's a very, very safe (place) to be and so I'd encourage people to continue enjoying the summer weather on our beautiful beaches.

"We will watch with interest as more information comes out from the police themselves.

"But please Bournemouth, please come and visit."

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