Triple suicide puts pressure on PM over asylum seekers

GORDON Brown will today be urged to improve the way asylum seekers with mental health issues are handled by authorities in the wake of the "exceptional tragedy" in which a Russian family took their own lives by jumping from a Glasgow tower block.

• The Red Road flats in Glasgow from which a Russian family jumped to their deaths from the 15th floor. Pictures: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The Prime Minister will be asked by Glasgow North East Labour MP Willie Bain to ensure the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is doing "all it can" to co-ordinate with other agencies to protect vulnerable individuals.

Police confirmed yesterday that the woman and two men who died on Sunday after falling from the 15th floor of a high-rise block in the Red Road complex were Russian nationals.

Officers, who quashed claims the family had tied themselves together, were unable to confirm their identification, with efforts to trace relatives ongoing.

However, it is was reported that the deceased were Serguei and Tatiana Serykh, and his unnamed 21-year-old stepson.

Mr Bain was visited by Mr Serykh at a constituency surgery only last month, where he outlined his intention to make a new application following the Home Office's decision to refuse him and his family asylum.

The MP said he advised him to contact a lawyer, and added that, in the meantime, he should seek help from the likes of the Scottish Refugee Council over housing.

Questions have been raised over Mr Serykh's mental health, with suggestions he had claimed to be a former member of the Russian Federal Security Service, and had uncovered a plot by the Canadian government to kill the Queen.

However, Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, the Scottish charity that offers support to asylum seekers, described the claims that the father was "delusional" as "pure speculation" and renewed calls for a public inquiry into the deaths.

Ms Qureshi, who said the family had been ordered to vacate the YMCA premises at the flats in the Springburn area of the city by the day of their deaths, added: "The Home Office is trying to discredit the family before the full details of their situation is known."

Mr Bain suggested that once the investigation into the deaths was complete, the decision by the family to kill themselves would be better understood.

He said: "It will be clear that what happened was someone who was perhaps suffering from paranoia, delusions and being forced down a terrible path."

He told The Scotsman: "We need to make sure the UKBA is co-ordinating with agencies to protect people, whether they have mental health issues, which may be an issue in this case."

The MP denied reports the family had been under the immediate threat of deportation and said no removal order had been made. He added that they had arrived in the UK on expired Canadian travel documents, and, in the event of deportation, they would have been returned to Canada.

The Home Office said it could not comment on the family's history until police made a positive identification, but it is believed the father led a nomadic lifestyle over the past decade.

He is thought to have been granted refugee status in Canada ten years ago, but the country rejected his application for citizenship in November 2007.

It is thought he then sought asylum in several European countries, including Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

With his family, he arrived in Glasgow last autumn, and was resident at the Red Road flats since 2 February.

Last night, more than 100 people gathered outside the block of flats and lit candles.

One asylum seeker, who gave his name as Mohammed and said he was from Pakistan, said: "

Today all asylum seekers are here to pay tribute to the three people who died. Everybody is worried about their own situations as well.

"I have four children and I have been here for three-and-a-half years. I have made a number of applications for asylum. If I go back to Pakistan I will be killed."

The vigil was attended by ten-year-old Scots asylum seeker Precious Mhango, whose high-profile campaign has been highlighted The Scotsman.


PROTESTERS gathered yesterday outside the UK Border Agency offices in Glasgow to call for a change to immigration policies following the suicides of three members of a Russian family.

Around 30 demonstrators, including asylum seekers, politicians and ordinary Scots, said the UK government should take steps to prevent a repeat of Sunday's tragedy.

Faridh Pardak, who lives on the 20th floor of the block at 63 Petershill Drive in Springburn, said the family "were only here for a better life".

She added: "They were a very good family. Their life was very dangerous in their country.

"I want to know what happened to them. They came for a better life – not to die here."

Ex-MSP Tommy Sheridan said: "It is hard to explain the depths of despair they must have felt."