THE bodies of nine British victims of the Tunisian beach massacre, including four Scots, were flown home yesterday, as the final UK death toll was confirmed at 30.
An RAF C17 transport plane returned the remains of Scots Lisa and Billy Graham, and Ann and James McQuire, along with Philip Heathcote, Trudy Jones, Janet and John Stocker, and David Thompson to Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney joined Home Office minister James Brokenshire and relatives of Rezgui’s victims at RAF Brize Norton to watch their coffins arrive and be transferred to hearses, which took them to west London, where a coroner is preparing a single inquest for all UK fatalities.
Eight Britons killed in the attack were brought back on Wednesday, and further flights are due today and tomorrow.
British nationals made up the bulk of the 38 killed by Seifeddine Rezgui when he opened fire on holidaymakers on a beach in the resort of Sousse last Friday. Three Irish nationals, two Germans, a Belgian, a Portuguese and a Russian also died.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “We now have all 30 British victims positively identified and we can say with a high degree of confidence that is now the final death toll of British nationals killed in this incident.”
As the hunt continued for accomplices believed to have helped Rezgui carry out the atrocity, the Tunisian government said it had arrested 12 suspects.
According to Tunisian officials, the gunman trained at a Libyan jihadist camp at the same time as the two gunmen who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis in March, killing 22.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon vowed those responsible for the Sousse massacre would be “tracked down”.
He told MPs: “We are working with the Tunisian authorities to find out exactly how this outrage last Friday was carried out, how it was planned, who was involved in it. Let the House be in absolutely no doubt, the people who perpetrated the murders of our constituents are going to be tracked down, whether they are in Libya, in Syria or anywhere else.”
Mr McQuire, 67, and his wife, 64, were from Cumbernauld in Lanarkshire, where vicar Joyce Keyes described them as a “kind and gentle couple”. The Grahams, from Bankfoot, near Perth, were visiting Tunisia to celebrate Mrs Graham’s 50th birthday.
Mr Heathcote, 52, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, was celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary with wife Allison, 48, who was seriously injured in the attack and has been flown back to Britain by the RAF for treatment.
Ms Jones, 51, from Gwent in south Wales, was described by her family as “our beautiful mother”. She was a divorced, single mother of four and had been on holiday with friends. Mr Stocker, 74, was a retired printer, born and bred in Peckham, south-east London. He was a father of five and had ten grandchildren. Mrs Stocker, 63, was born and raised in Fulham, south-west London.
Mr Thompson, 80, from Tadley, Hampshire, was a retired scientist at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.
Wounded Britons – including four with severe injuries – have already been brought back to the UK for treatment at hospitals in Birmingham, Oxford, Plymouth and London.
A minute’s silence in memory of the victims will be observed at noon today – a week after the outrage – and flags will be flown at half-mast over Whitehall departments and at Buckingham Palace.
Whitehall officials met yesterday to consider the continuing UK response to the attack.
Those repatriated on Wednesday included the youngest victim, Joel Richards, 19, who died with his uncle Adrian Evans and grandfather Patrick Evans, and former Birmingham City footballer Denis Thwaites, 70, and his wife Elaine, 69.