Red Road suicide: Russian family had warned of plan to kill themselves

Suicide of Russian family clear example of need to protect vulnerable asylum seekers
Suicide of Russian family clear example of need to protect vulnerable asylum seekers
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A RUSSIAN family who fell from the 15th floor of Glasgow’s Red Road flats had written a letter revealing suicidal intentions to the Home Office in the weeks before their deaths.

Immigration papers, seen by The Scotsman, reveal the Serykh family fled from Ottawa in Canada, through Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Bremen, Barcelona and Dublin, before finally arriving in the UK in fear of their lives.

Serguei Serykh, 43, who claimed to have formerly been a senior officer in Russia military intelligence, was convinced he was being hunted by the Canadian secret service.

He believed this was because of secret intelligence he had passed to prime minister Stephen Harper.

His letter to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) revealed that at one point he left the family home in Canada believing he was going to his death.

“And so, at 22:30, November 16, 2007, I decided to leave the house to die somewhere on the street but save my family,” Mr Serykh wrote.

In the same letter, his wife said that, after her husband left: “I started to look up phone numbers of people who were close to me, who could help my son, after me and my husband’s death.

“I thought that they would at least spare my son. But he calmly replied, ‘Mom, I feel bad, too. I will go with you as well.”

However, when her husband returned they decided to flee to the UK instead. “I realised that England was the only country which could protect me and my family,” Mr Serykh wrote.

But their asylum bid was rejected and they were told to return to Canada. They died in Glasgow in March 2010.

Positive Action In Housing (PAIH), a charity that supports asylum seekers, believes they were failed by the UK government.

Robina Qureshi, director of PAIH, said: “The papers show very clearly that the Serykh family were in fear of their lives, declaring suicidal intentions which may be linked with mental health problems.

“It is very clear that the UKBA failed to provide appropriate support and then set about withdrawing the family’s financial support, housing and refused them any right to seek paid work.

“That meant this law-abiding family may have seen no other option than suicide, as they believed they were in fear of their lives, because of Mr Serykh’s past in the Russian military intelligence, if they were returned to Canada.

“I believe that the failure of the UKBA to recognise they were dealing with highly-vulnerable people led to the deaths of the Serykh family.”

The Serykh family’s relatives in Russia have reportedly given up hope of a fatal accident inquiry, although they do not believe the deaths were suicide.

The Home Office said it took mental health fears into account when assessing asylum bids.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “Every case is carefully considered on its individual merits, examining all relevant information.

“The UK Border Agency takes into account relevant mental health issues when considering asylum claims.”