Libya uprising: Family of stranded oil worker 'angry'


The family of a Chester man who is stranded in an oil field in Libya has criticised the Foreign Office over the speed of its evacuation plans.

James Lockhart, 62, a design engineer, is expected to be bussed to Benghazi on Saturday where he will board HMS Cumberland.

His wife Margaret said that she was angry that they had been unable to speak to the Foreign Office.

Mr Lockhart works for Libyan firm Sirte at a site between Tripoli and Benghazi.

'Quite frightening'

Mrs Lockhart, from Elton, said: "What's making me angry is that we've had nobody to talk to.

"We're watching the news 24 hours a day and everything's just going through your mind."

Image caption,
James Lockhart has worked in Libyan oil fields for more than 20 years

Mr Lockhart, who has worked in Libya for more than 20 years, will travel with about 20 other Britons who live in the compound of the 500-strong company.

Mrs Lockhart said: "It's a three-hour bus trip and I believe there'll be some guards on the buses, but with mercenaries in the area it's still quite frightening."

The father-of-two is due to travel from the port of Benghazi on HMS Cumberland to Malta where he hopes to catch a flight back to Manchester Airport.

'Nice people'

Mrs Lockhart said that the Foreign Office had advised her husband that he could have left earlier if he had been able to get to Tripoli and board a flight.

She said: "The authorities don't realise that they can't get to Tripoli.

"I feel sorry for the other families, especially the chaps who are out in the desert camps."

The couple's daughter Janet Boden said: "He's already said that he'd like to go back at some stage.

"He says there are a lot of nice people out there, but I'm not sure my mum's going to want him going back out."

She said her father's contract would allow him to return home every three months for a three-week break.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The security and wellbeing of British nationals is our absolute priority.

'We are sorry'

"We are doing all we can to get them out of Libya, drawing on both military and commercial assets, as well as working with international partners.

"Our priority is ensuring British nationals can leave Libya as quickly and as safely as soon as possible.

"We have sent charter planes, an RAF plane and a Naval Ship to help British Nationals.

"More will be sent until all those who want to leave Tripoli have been able to do so.

"We have already helped hundreds of Brits to leave Libya, and are doing everything possible to help those left in the country get to a place of safety.

"This has been a difficult and challenging situation, and many Brits remain in danger.

"We are sorry for some of the delays, particularly around the provision of charter aircraft, and the distress of British nationals who have been unable to leave."

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