Foreign Office treatment of Belfast widow 'despicable'

By Stephen Walker
BBC News NI Political Correspondent

  • Published
Mark TaylorImage source, Family
Image caption,
Mark Taylor died just days short of his 47th birthday

The Foreign Office has been criticised by an MP who says its treatment of a Belfast widow has been "absolutely despicable".

Jennifer Taylor's husband Mark died in mysterious circumstances in Kabul.

Mr Taylor, from north Belfast, was found dead in the British Embassy in the Afghan capital in April. His family say they have not been given precise details of how he died.

The family claim the Foreign Office has not been supportive.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "Our staff continue to support the family of a British man following his death in Kabul in April.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

Image caption,
Jennifer Taylor said she had not been given full details of the circumstances of her husband's death

Mr Taylor, 46, worked for a private security firm in Kabul as a close protection officer at the British Embassy.

Sinn Féin North Belfast MP John Finucane said: "If you wanted to create an atmosphere where by people are suspicious, then the Foreign Office have done just that through their lack of support for Jennifer."

The MP said the way the family had been treated was "absolutely despicable".

Mrs Taylor said she had not been given full details of the circumstances of her husband's death.

She said two post-mortem examinations were inconclusive and she felt let down by the Foreign Office.

Image caption,
Mr Taylor had been working in Kabul on a shift pattern of nine weeks on and three weeks off

Speaking to the BBC, she said the Foreign Office had not offered support or guidance.

She also said she begged officials to fly her husband's body directly back to Belfast but instead his remains came home via Dublin.

Mrs Taylor said her husband's body had been treated like a "piece of lost luggage".

She said the Foreign Office should help and support her family and officials should telephone her or visit and "do something instead of nothing".

Image caption,
John Finucane said the treatment of the Taylor family had been despicable

Mrs Taylor is appealing for more information about her husband's death and has posed a series of questions.

The BBC understands Mark Taylor's inquest will take place on 17 December in London.

Under current regulations it is not legally possible to have his inquest in Northern Ireland.

Image source, family
Image caption,
Mr Taylor was a father of three

A new law which would allow Mr Taylor's inquest to happen in Belfast has not been commenced in Northern Ireland

Mr Finucane said he hoped a lot of questions would be answered at the inquest, but said the Foreign Office needed to "step up" now and help the Taylor family.

For Mr Taylor's relatives the last five months have been heartbreaking.

Mrs Taylor recalls how she spoke to her husband on the phone just hours before he died.

Image source, family
Image caption,
Mr Taylor had spoken to his wife hours before he died

She said she had been left in limbo and she had a series of unanswered questions about her husband's final hours.

"How did he die?" she asks.

The Belfast woman also wants to know why a healthy young man would go to bed and "simply not wake up".

She said suicide or foul play were ruled out and said prior to her husband's death he was "really happy", although the day before he died he did sound unwell.

A father of three, Mark Taylor had been working in Kabul on a shift pattern of nine weeks on and three weeks off.

Previously he had been in the Army for 14 years and was 13 days shy of his 47th birthday when he died.