Suffolk

Felixstowe UN worker killing: 'Come clean' call to government

Iain Hook's UN identity card
Image caption Iain Hook was working for the UN Relief and Works Agency when he was killed

A former head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has called on Britain to "come clean" over the "hushing up" of the death of a UK citizen shot by an Israeli soldier.

Dr Peter Hansen paid tribute to UNRWA worker Iain Hook, of Felixstowe, Suffolk, on the 10th anniversary of his death in a UN compound in Jenin.

He criticised Britain and Israel for failing to bring the killer to justice.

The British government said the death was a tragedy.

Mr Hook, 54, who was born in Essex, was the respected head of an UNRWA project to rebuild the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin.

'Pursue the truth'

He had previously successfully managed a project to rebuild a vast hospital complex in Pristina, Kosovo.

On 22 November 2002, Mr Hook was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper who may have been as close as 30 metres from his target.

The sniper was from the Israeli special forces, equipped with a medium to high powered rifle, probably with a red laser sight.

He also had radio communication with other troops who overlooked the compound.

Mr Hook was known to the Israelis. He had to register himself with the authorities to work at the compound and each day passed through a whole host of army checkpoints.

One of Mr Hook's colleagues, Paul Wolstenholme, described the shooting as "a deliberate act", but this has been denied by the Israeli authorities.

An inquest held in Ipswich in December 2005 found Mr Hook had been unlawfully killed.

Dr Hansen, who was commissioner general of UNRWA at the time of the shooting, called on the British and Israeli governments to seek justice over the death of Mr Hook.

"I think they should come clean and try and pursue the truth. Make the truth public," he told the BBC.

He criticised the British government's failure to act following the inquest.

"It is amazing that an unlawful killing of a British citizen, working for an international organisation, can be hushed up to the degree it was," he said.

Image caption Dr Peter Hansen paid tribute to Iain Hook as a "top rate and brave" member of his team

"It was covered up by the government of Israel and it appears, the UK government."

He said he could not comment on media reports at the time that suggested he had been forced out of his position after the death Mr Hook because of pressure by Israel, but added that "the general assumption was my questions (on the death) were not welcome".

"I would say he was a top rate, brave and sensible and cautious manager who was murdered in cold blood... I am sure everybody who worked with him valued his example."

He said it was vital to spread the news about the death and find justice for Mr Hook.

He praised the work of Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean and the inquest which exposed many of the facts surrounding the death.

'No criminal act'

The Foreign Office said that with its resources concentrated on the present concerns in the Middle East, it could not give a detailed response to criticism over the death of Mr Hook.

At the time of the shooting in 2002, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called Mr Hook's death a "terrible event" and expressed his condolences to his family and friends.

While in 2006 former cabinet minister Clare Short MP, who headed up the International Development department at the time of Mr Hook's death, said a public apology was needed from Israel.

"It does not seem that anything on the public record was achieved. A private fudge is not good enough," she said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said they could not talk about the specifics at this time but stressed that it would always expect the Israeli Defence Force to keep to international law.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Embassy said it could not add to previous comments on this incident.

In 2006, a spokesman for the Israeli Defence Force said its inquiry found that as "no criminal act had been committed... no criminal charges were filed against any soldier involved".

He said Mr Hook's family "received compensation for the incident ex-gratia".

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