Local man Michael Porter’s fight to achieve justice for his Mum Jean is gathering pace. MP for Dumfries and Galloway Richard Arkless has secured a meeting with the Greek Embassy, opened doors for Michael to meet with the new prosecutor in Crete and is pushing for the direct involvement of the Prime Minister.
Jean Hanlon, 53, from Dumfries, disappeared on 9th March 2009 and her body was found several days later in the sea off Heraklion. At the time, a local coroner ruled that she had died as a result of an accident. However, evidence later gathered by Jean’s son Michael and his elder brothers, David and Robert, suggested otherwise.
A second post-mortem demanded by the brothers revealed that Jean had died before entering the water, having suffered a broken neck and substantial other injuries.
Michael and his family have spent the last seven years campaigning for the case to be reopened so that they can finally get answers to what happened to their Mum and bring anyone who may have been responsible to justice.
This week, Mr Arkless held a ‘very constructive’ meeting at the Foreign Office which allowed Michael to meet in person with the Vice Consul in Crete and representatives of the Foreign Office. The meeting gave Michael the opportunity to discuss his concerns about the support he received in the immediate aftermath of his Mum’s death and form a plan of action about how to move things forward. The Vice Consul was persuaded to arrange a meeting between Michael and the new prosecutor looking after the case in Crete.
Following the meeting Mr Arkless wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May to request a meeting with her in person to discuss the family’s case and request that the Foreign Office launch a review into the support it gives to families in similar situations.
Commenting Mr Arkless said:
‘The meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has reassured Michael that he now has a strong team behind him to make sure things progress well on the ground in Greece.’
‘Michael’s path to achieve justice for his Mum has been littered with obstacles and barriers and he has worked extremely hard overcome so many of them with relatively little support. He is understandably cautious about any promises that are made by anyone – he feels like he has been there before but we are moving forward and his determination is greater than ever.’
‘One of the main problems Michael and his brothers faced from day one was the language barrier – the FCO provide a list of nominated translators and lawyers but this is only helpful to those with the immediate financial means to pay for professional support. I have written to the Prime Minister and urged her to consider the immediate financial impact on families facing similar circumstances abroad. Horrifying news comes as a shock and in that raw period the financial burden can be overwhelming. If she agrees to meet with me, I will put it to the Prime Minister that the Foreign Office should seek to take the role of a public service in this regard, not just a diplomatic service.’
‘It is a fortunate coincidence that my Parliamentary Assistant, Anastasios is a fluent Greek speaker and is voluntarily helping Michael with contextual translations of documents from Greek to English and vice versa. This additional support that we can offer Michael is simply a stroke of good luck and Anastasios’ skills have helped move things forward in the right direction in Greece however no citizen should have to rely upon ‘chance’ and goodwill to get the support they need.’
‘Going forward I have arranged a meeting with the Greek Ambassador to the UK in order to discuss the details of the case. Hopefully this can raise the profile of the case domestically. We are also exploring options of seeking Mutual Legal Assistance through the Home Office in order to involve the police here in the UK with the investigation.’
‘The most important thing is for this case to be investigated as thoroughly as possible. That is everyone’s priority.’
Commenting on the case, Michael Porter said:
‘I found our meeting the other week very productive. Although it is always emotionally draining to go through everything again, I felt that a massive weight had been lifted from me and my family.’
‘As it stands, we now we have a strong team of officials who are all taking responsibilities and roles to help ensure the case gains the momentum needed to now progress and to enable us to carry on the fight for justice in her name. It is hard not to get too excited as we have been in similar situations before however, if everyone sticks to what they promised and we are successful then we have a really good chance of actually getting a positive outcome after so many years of disappointment. This would be the best news we could have.’
‘I am very grateful to everyone who attended the meeting. Each and every participant came prepared and committed but most of all they were passionate about our mother’s case.’
‘I have been extremely overwhelmed and grateful for Richard’s and his Parliamentary assistant Anastasios’ constant commitment and hard work since the first day we met and I feel very assured that they are doing and will continue to do everything in their power to help me and my brothers in our fight for justice.’