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Margaret Thatcher

 

Assistance or Indifference?

I am sure our overseas consulates can at times be useful and helpful in many ways, but from personal experience I can vouch for one area in which British subjects are completely abandoned, and left to fend for themselves. And recently in one of many little-known attempts to save our bankrupt country some much needed cash their services have been dramatically reduced. No longer can they issue replacement or new passports to British citizens overseas, no longer can they process visa applications, these are now done at regional centres. For example Asian and Middle Eastern applications for British passports are processed in Germany and visa applications in Turkey. Couriers are used, adding to the chance of losing valuable and irreplaceable documents, and of course the resultant problems fall on the shoulders of the applicant, no help from the Cameron regime! Processing times increase of course and for passport applications the courier cost is passed on to the applicant. Not for visa applications so far, but watch this space! Any opportunity for a few more shekels cannot be overlooked for long....! And what of my first comment, where British citizens must fend for themselves? Well, I refer to legal matters. A few years ago I found myself attacked in a foreign country and as it happened at about the same time an Italian colleague had a similar experience. I had some basic hospital treatment and received help from local friends in dealing with police and medical matters. I contacted the British Consulate who declined to assist in any way, except to point me at a list of English speaking lawyers on their website. No advice, no assistance, not even any sympathy, just a policy quote that they could not become involved or give advice on any legal matters. So what was different for my Italian friend? His consulate also declined to become directly involved, BUT he was given advice and assistance and when the matter came to court the Italian consulate provided an interpreter and an official observer. No direct involvement but certainly assistance and I guess it was gratefully received. I employed an expensive English speaking lawyer, won my case and fought the subsequent appeal on my own, with an interpreter of course, and successfully! I understand Consulate staff have no legal training but neither did the Italians, so why in such situations is there such a different approach? Am I unique, or is this how all Brits are treated by their country's overseas representatives?

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