Saturday, February 13, 2016

Italy Fights For Justice For A Murdered Student As The UK Government Never Did

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: a minute’s silence in the Italian parliament for Giulio Regeni an Italian student found slain in Cairo a few days ago.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered in a village in northern Italy for the funeral of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge PhD student found tortured and dead in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo last week.

Flags were flying at half-mast in Fiumicello, where villagers offered spare rooms and couches for the 28-year-old’s friends and family, as the diplomatic fallout from his death continued in Rome.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, warned Egypt that the health of the relationship between the two countries rested on the quality of the investigation into Regeni’s killing.

Compare with how the UK government reacted after Meredith died. Basically it looked the other way. Many in Italian justice were amazed at how totally disinterested the UK government was in the case in all the years since Meredith’s death.

The US government sprang into action to help Knox and to make sure she was treated right, though there was no proof the Italians would do anything but. They found her a Rome lawyer with good English (Carlos Dalla Vedova) and monitored all her court sessions and her four years in Capanne.

This came at a probable cost of over half a million dollars. And that is just the public support. Nobody ever said “the Federal budget cannot stand this”.

The extent of the British government in pushing justice for Meredith and her family? Exactly zero over the years.

Nothing was ever paid toward the legal costs or the very high travel costs of the Kercher family to be in court as the family finances ran into the ground. Nobody from the Foreign Office in London or the UK Embassy in Rome observed in court except in Florence, just the once.

Appalling pro-Knox Italy-bashing in the UK media based on highly inaccurate accounts was never tamped down - presumably because the Foreign Office was itself in the dark, and did not have a clue what was going on.

The ugly message this sent to the world?  If you are going to be a student in foreign trouble, be an American or Italian. Not a Brit.

However, years after four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, the UK government is spending heavily to right a possible wrong there.  Back in 2007 Meredith’s case and Madeleine’s case began just a few weeks apart.

Maybe to right a possible wrong in Italy, the UK government could do likewise here.


Couldn’t agree with you more Peter.

I’m based in Scotland (still part of the U.K. thankfully but for how long, who knows?) and wrote to Theresa May, our Home Secretary, asking for the government to take a look at this case. I didn’t even receive the courtesy of a reply. Our government’s complete dereliction of their duty of care to a murdered British national and her family is a disgrace.

What’s more sickening is the juxta position of the money that’s been spent on the Madeleine McCann case which is dubious at best. The parents who left their children alone in an apartment received no censure whatsoever yet the government still reopened the investigation due to pressure from these “loving parents” and the media campaign which backed them. A media who were, rightly in my opinion, anti the McCanns in the beginning but who changed tack later on.

There is a wealth of stuff online about the Madeleine McCann case and something is very rotten indeed at the core of it. The parents know much more than they are saying in my view. Watch some of the many videos online with the McCann parents being interviewed and you will see acting of a similarly terrible standard to that of Knox herself. They really do come across as hateful human beings.

Posted by davidmulhern on 02/14/16 at 01:20 AM | #

I often wondered where was the British Government in all this. I see they were nowhere to be found. But I can’t fathom why. They should have taken a keen interest from the start. If they had cried for justice long and loud perhaps things would be different now.

Posted by Travis on 02/14/16 at 02:37 AM | #


I don’t know if it would have made any difference but it might have been better to write to the Foreign Secretary since the FCWO is meant to “support the interests of British citizens abroad”. (I wouldn’t rely on the Home Office to be so efficient as to forward mail to the appropriate department.)

Posted by Odysseus on 02/14/16 at 03:50 PM | #

@ Odysseus, you are absolutely right - call the F.O.!

See the Don Pacifico Incident in 1850:
“ which the BritishForeign Secretary Lord Palmerston dispatched a squadron of the Royal Navy to blockade the Greek port of Piraeus in retaliation for the harming of a British subject, David Pacifico, in Athens, and the subsequent failure of the government of King Otto to compensate the Gibraltar-born (and therefore British) Pacifico.”

Posted by Cardiol MD on 02/14/16 at 05:41 PM | #

@Cardiol MD

Ah, those were the days my friend when we could despatch a gunboat or two anywhere in the world to concentrate minds vis-a-vis British interests!

Maybe post-colonial guilt (and reduced circumstances) makes HMG wary nowadays of even saying “excuse me, I hope you don’t mind but one of our subjects…” 😊

Posted by Odysseus on 02/14/16 at 05:59 PM | #

Would the UK have remained silent if it were not an American involved?

Bush and Blair brought out the US-UK relationship into the public gaze. Governments change but traditions don’t.

Posted by chami on 02/15/16 at 07:58 AM | #

Good point Chami.

We have been America’s poodle for a very long time.

I suppose there is a difference with the McCann case, where there have never been any arrests and so no judicial involvement; this has probably been seen by our mandarins to demand British involvement.

Maybe the view was taken in Whitehall that the Italian courts had Meredith’s case under control, and to some extent they did have - until the B-M fiasco. One would hope that official government representations have been made to Italy since then but maybe this would first require the Kerchers themselves to seek the help of the foreign office. Have they I wonder?

Posted by Odysseus on 02/15/16 at 12:02 PM | #

Madeleine was taken as little more than a baby, and remains an officially missing British citizen, from foreign soil. Any resources that the McCann’s can push the British Government into supplying to follow new investigative leads are justified in trying to bring Madeleine home. She, too, deserves justice.
In the meantime, let’s see what Renzi really provides beyond his trite PR one liner.

Posted by YorkshireLass on 02/15/16 at 03:42 PM | #

I hate to mention this but it is not without merit. There is a view in the UK, just as there is in the USA, that people of “Mixed Blood” are viewed as less than otherwise. Of course this is more prevalent in the US where racism is the norm since some do not recognize it as being anything but the usual way of looking at things and as such some just accept it.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/15/16 at 05:52 PM | #

Is it Brit bashing time or what? I know we all need to keep terribly excited and neurotic , anxious to blame someone for something otherwise we wouldn’t have any raison d’etre, but frankly the last people that need blaming for the outcome in Florence is the U.K. government (and the U.K. media, awful though it is).

Let’s keep focussed here. There was, I think most would agree, corruption in the final verdict. Let’s just stay with that for a while, difficult though that may be for some people with emotional attachments to the countries where the corruption likely stems from. It is either Italian or U.S. inspired (my money is on the former). Rambling on about the alleged failure of the U.K. government to provide sufficient support for the Kerchers is unbelievably petty and absurd in this context, and serves only to distract from the great stink. Why would we want to do that?

Posted by Odysseus on 02/15/16 at 07:21 PM | #

Dr. Phil is interviewing Juan Martinez, the prosecutor of Jodi Arias, on today’s show (Monday, Feb 15, 2016).

Interesting tidbit: Jodi, like AK and OJ, was born on July 9.

Posted by Earthling on 02/15/16 at 11:18 PM | #

UK citizen was murdered on foreign soil.  UK govt did nothing but ignore the injustice of Italy’s corrupt SC.  Apologist for UK’s ignorance is apologist for Knox + Knifeboy.  U.S. didn’t ignore Knox.  If UK had at least pursued an independent investigation we may have never seen the 2 murderers released.

Posted by whatswisdom on 02/16/16 at 01:21 AM | #

I couldn’t agree more, Peter. About the only help from UK came from Oxford professor David Balding. He helped confirm the validity of Italian DNA findings.

The UK government should have shown visible support for the Kercher family long long ago and stood watchdog over the trials…in a very public way, to counterbalance the pro-Knox press.

As an American I am disgusted by the blind following Knox received via U.S. media in slanted stories spun simply for advertising dollars.

And now who can lament loudly enough the unspeakable horror that young Regeni the Cambridge student suffered in Egypt recently? Poor Giulio Regeni, may he rest in peace.

Posted by Hopeful on 02/16/16 at 03:18 AM | #

I’m sure you’re right @Odysseus, my missive would have been better directed to the foreign office. I suspect though that it would have been similarly filed under B for bin anyway.

Methinks you’re a bit thin skinned on the Brit bashing charge you level . I’m a Scot (and hence a Brit) and I’m not feeling this Brit bashing at all. Nor do I think there is any “alleged” failure of govt support for the Kerchers. Or if there is it’s akin to Knox and Sollecito being “alleged” to have killed Merdith.

I can’t see it distracting from the “great stink” you posit either, nor do I view it either petty or absurd. It’s just people blowing off steam and proffering opinions.

I’m sure everyone still has their eyes on the prize, these are merely distractions along the road.

@yorkshirelass, I note your point about Madeleine still being an official missing person and hence anything her horrible parents can leverage from the govt to continue the search is justified. It strikes me you may not have looked at this case in much depth because if you had, I’m fairly sure you would have concluded that the supposed new investigative leads and expense that they entail are nothing more than a fool’s errand.

You’d be as well saying that Meredith’s family should be petitioning the Italian government to find Guede’s two missing accomplices.

Posted by davidmulhern on 02/16/16 at 03:36 AM | #

Well said, Odysseus, very well said.

Posted by YorkshireLass on 02/16/16 at 03:47 AM | #

I think we should all keep a dignified silence and some humility when discussing what the UK government have or haven’t done in connection with the case.

Nobody is privy to what might have transpired in discussions between the FCWO and the Kerchers. Nor can anyone be aware of diplomatic moves that might have been made.

Upthread there was the mention of gunboat diplomacy in the 19th century. Obviously we simply don’t live in that kind of world anymore and the UK government can’t suddenly cry “foul"and claim corruption to the Italian government, even though most of us here believe that to be the case. That’s not how diplomacy works.

It would be useful for the press to interview the Kerchers - then we might all be a bit wiser as to what’s going on. Although it may well be that they have had quite enough of the press already.

Posted by Odysseus on 02/16/16 at 12:32 PM | #

Dear Odysseus

No national insult intended! Really. We all love you. This is after all a British national we are all seeking justice for though a majority here are not themselves British.

But do compare the extreme ease with which all three perps got help with the zero help the Kerchers obtained from “their” bureaucracy?

John K did mention in an article long ago confirmed by an email that he was shocked that his requests for help (especially financial, they have to pay for Maresca as well as all travel though I believe he’s “understanding” in his billing) had gone nowhere.

Mignini really did want them to be in court and out of his own budget helped them to attend with some travel costs. The one time they could afford to come to the Hellmann appeal was after the die was cast.  Despite the fund for Meredith, which was set up, very reluctantly, in the context of a financial emergency.

An MP did once become active on this but she did not swing things. The Machine and other activists here and on the PMFs did attempt through emails to argue a case for official support but came up empty-handed.

If the Kerchers had been able to afford a UK lawyer as the McCanns did they might have won help via lobbying or the court system, or at minimum drawn attention to a fixable system problem.

Guede finding himself with eager offers of pro bono support from top Italian law firms could be something we could reflect on. But it seems a bit of an unfair alternative.

“Obviously we simply don’t live in that kind of world anymore and the UK government can’t suddenly cry “foul” and claim corruption to the Italian government,”

But isnt that more or less what the UK government is doing to the Portuguese government? There’s a precedent.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/16 at 04:55 PM | #

And again, for injecting some rationality and common sense, well said Odysseus.

Posted by YorkshireLass on 02/16/16 at 05:02 PM | #

The dignified silence of UK govt. has been deafening for going on 8 years. 

If they made an attempt to stand up for one of their own we may have had better luck with getting justice in this sad farce.  From trial to corrupt Hellman to corrupter SC:  Where was the UK dept. of foreign affairs? 

Where was the BBC - supposedly the world’s leader in objective truth-based reporting?  This govt. backed news agency has failed Meredith.  The rest of the UK media followed suit. 

In reality, the UK has in effect been lock step with U.S. media and Knox PR, which has ensured that Knox stayed in Seattle and Knife boy in open air Italy. 

Sorry, but gently chiding anyone against criticizing the nice UK govt. is laughable.

Posted by whatswisdom on 02/16/16 at 05:05 PM | #


I suppose the question is have the Kerchers ever been offered pro-bono legal support in the U.K.? Who knows, perhaps they have and they politely turned it down. Again, nobody knows - it’s all surmise. Mind you lack of clarity won’t stop fevered speculation, including semi-conspiracy theories against the U.K. government, the U.K. press and the BBC.


Thank you. It seems a few really do need to have a reality check, rather than succumb to the vapours and thrash about blaming all and sundry; all with the exception, for some weird reason, of the actual architects of the mistrial.


The BBC is not a “govt. backed news agency”. The BBC is a public broadcaster funded by a television licence. You might not like its output,  that’s entirely up to you, but rest assured it’s editorially independent of the government. Trust me, I worked there.

It should be obvious that the reason Knox is now in the U.S. and Sollecito is now in Italy has nothing to do with supposed failures of the U.K. government or the BBC for heaven’s sake. It has everything to do with woeful Italian jurispudence, in particular a bent S.C. That this is not crystal clear to everyone who posts, that some might prefer to implicate the U.K, however tangentially,  and by so doing let Italy (or the U.S. - choose your own source of corruption) off the hook to even the slightest extent,  is really what’s laughable here. Aim your fire where it truly belongs, it’s not difficult.

Posted by Odysseus on 02/16/16 at 06:23 PM | #

Hi Odysseus

We are not just guessing in the dark here as you are again suggesting. John K himself expressed frustration - not with everything British, but with a brushoff by the Foreign Office.

PS Might Scotland Yard be a way forward here?

That probe has so far cost £11 million. So there are resources from somewhere.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/16 at 06:31 PM | #


“But isn’t that more or less what the UK government is doing to the Portuguese government?”

If you’re referring to the McCann case I happily admit to knowing very little about it but I have to doubt HMG are crying foul as such - they surely wouldn’t get very far if they did. Anyway if necessary I bow to your greater knowledge here - I’m not about to get embroiled in the minutiae of another “who dunnit” tragedy, one is more than enough for me.

Posted by Odysseus on 02/16/16 at 07:19 PM | #

Sorry Odysseus. I should have chipped in earlier with that background. We had a public holiday here and some horrific weather and frankly its hard to stop watching our “politics”.

In early days the ferocious Knox & Sollecito PR hit the ground running. We only came on-stream late in 2008 as an offshoot of PMF (Skep did the first big post) in light of this PR being ramped up and some images showing the Kerchers being mobbed by media outside the court and looking decidedly frightened.

In interviews and articles of his own and some emails John K made clear the family wanted to take the high road. Family illnesses and financial devastation have constributed to sustaining this low profile.

John K thanked us a lot for all the support here, in his book “Meredith”. He did also say this about the Foreign Office (the Rome Embassy did help with translators).

I flew with Arline and Stephanie to Florence, to meet with members of the British Consulate. John and Lyle were unable to attend because of work commitments, and because of the cost of our travel expenses. Throughout the whole process we were to receive no financial help from our own Foreign Office, and had to find a way of funding everything ourselves. This was financially crippling, but something we just had to do.

Contrast this with the £11 million spent so far on the McCann case. As I said the Machine and other UK posters did mount a campaign but were ignored or brushed off also.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/16 at 07:34 PM | #


I don’t doubt your factual accuracy. What I doubt is its relevance at this stage.The Press have what they call “slow news days”, when everyone in the newsroom urgently scrambles around for copy. Could TJMK have fallen foul of this phenomena?

I’ll just say, finally,  that Brit Meredith Kercher was murdered by an American and two Italian delinquents. These were arrested and eventually acqitted by a corrupt Italian court. There is the likelihood that the corruption emanates from either the U.S. or Italy.

The U.K. government may not have helped as much as it could/should have in making the Kercher’s ordeal easier to bear but let’s be clear who the real villains are, those with blood on their hands or corruption in their hearts. Clue for those not keeping up: one thing they are not is U.K.-based,  and they are certainly NOT the BBC or any our diabolical newspapers. LOL.

Posted by Odysseus on 02/16/16 at 08:23 PM | #

Make that “two were eventually acqitted”, in case any pedants are out and about.

Posted by Odysseus on 02/16/16 at 08:28 PM | #

(A few cherry picked wiki excerpts below that contradict the BBC non-govt theory.) 

I write my opinion based on my strong feeling that UK govt + media utterly failed to provide any support for Meredith or her family. 

This was a tragedy in itself and contributed in leaving Meredith invisible while murderer Knox was given all the exposure as attractive lead role in the sexy pic stories that served her so well. 

This is by no means Brit bashing.  I have great Brit friends.  This is about what should have been but wasn’t afforded to a UK citizen who was left alone to die by 3 murderers in Italy. 

“Under the Royal Charter, the BBC must obtain a licence from the Home Secretary. This licence is accompanied by an agreement which sets the terms and conditions under which BBC is allowed to broadcast.

“BBC Trustees are appointed by the British monarch on advice of government ministers

“The revenue is collected privately and is paid into the central government Consolidated Fund, a process defined in the Communications Act 2003

The licence fee is classified as a tax, and its evasion is a criminal offence. Since 1991, collection and enforcement of the licence fee has been the responsibility of the BBC in its role as TV Licensing Authority.”

Posted by whatswisdom on 02/16/16 at 08:34 PM | #

Hi Whatswisdom

Good points on the BBC there. Like CNN and the Associated Press the BBC has put many reporters on the case at different times. We have seen extremes of hot and cold in the reporting depending on which reporter it was. No consistency.

Some have been affected by the Knox PR and a couple of pretty active London reporters appear to be on the payroll. One moved from the Guardian to the BBC.

A two-page expose of the Knox PR was put online by one newspaper (we had no role in it) but the next day it had disappeared, surprise surprise.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/16 at 09:20 PM | #

Hi Odysseus

No its not a slow news day. There are many posts in the pipeline. We suddenly see TWO clear precedents for governments pressing for justice for their citizens and report them. 

Things are evolving fast, and the Guede and Sollecito suits and unravelling of the Cassation outcome make this the perfect timing.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/16/16 at 09:31 PM | #

There is much wrong with some of these comments, including factual errors based on ignorance of events and misrepresentations of my views, that I think further comment on the minutiae would be the proverbial fuel being poured on the fire.

Not sure why things got so heated but there we are, can’t agree on everything all the time I suppose. We can be a strange species, we humans.

Hopefully we’ll all be friends again when the next post rolls around!

Posted by davidmulhern on 02/17/16 at 02:46 AM | #

Hi davidmulhern

I summarised some facts, known to all of us way-back, which newer readers were maybe unaware of.

The Kerchers felt terribly let down in their legal, financial and health struggles. I quoted John himself on this. It was a beef about official UK acting callous. I dont see anyone above saying that officialdom has emerged looking wonderful. It looks worse in face of the enormous funding devoted to pressing Portugal on the McCann case. 

The fund for Meredith had to be set up in this vacuum, and many in the US and Italy and elsewhere contributed something even though Meredith was not of their nationality. Several here have already offered to take this up again with the Foreign Office and Parliament, which is progress.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/17/16 at 04:26 AM | #

@David Mulhern, if you go to you can find a lot of investigative police documents regarding Madeline McCann.  It is clear from police dog evidence that Madeline died in the apartment and that she was then moved in the boot of the rental car.  The two sniffer dogs used had a 100% track record of locating blood and corpse evidence and their findings are not disputable.  The McCanns are as guilty as Knox/Sollecito and, like her, they have benefitted from government intervention and underhand tactcs.  Disgusting!

Posted by MHILL4 on 02/17/16 at 06:19 PM | #

It is sad what the Kerchers had to go through with ill health and financial constraints.

Currently watching The People v OJ Simpson. Justice comes one way or the other.

Posted by Ergon on 02/17/16 at 06:46 PM | #

Thank you, Peter. I always did think that the shameful BBC was complicit in obsfucating the truth about what happened to Meredith, a British citizen. I guess Mr. and Mrs. Kercher had to pay for said coverage, to add insult to injury.

As far as the UK government’s failure, I’ll take the word of Mr. Kercher over anyone taking offense because they conflated ‘British government” with “British.’ Obviously, criticizing one is not criticizing the other.

Posted by JohnQ on 02/17/16 at 11:34 PM | #


Exactly right. And her parents are bullies who don’t deserve another Euro to pay for their farce.

Posted by JohnQ on 02/18/16 at 03:08 AM | #
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