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Home > India > News > PTI

UK: Press unleashes attack against Scarlette's mother

March 13, 2008 20:21 IST

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After days of support, a nasty press campaign has begun here against the mother of Scarlette Keeling, a British teenager who was murdered in Goa [Images].


The Mail unleashed a vicious attack on 15-year-old Scarlette's mother Fiona MacKeown after the discovery of pictures showing the "scruffy" interior of the family's caravan home in Devon.


"As these pictures show, this is the squalor in which Scarlette Keeling was being raised. It is a million miles from the fantasy world of a wholesome family upbringing painted by her mother in the past two weeks," the paper says.


It questions MacKeown's unconventional upbringing of her child, claiming there is a "growing army of critics who believe she (MacKeown) fatally let her eldest daughter down".


The paper's columnist Allison Pearson accused MacKeown of a "dereliction of duty" for allowing her daughter to go "hippy globetrotting".


She adds: "Forgive me for being a boringly conventional bourgeois mum, but what the hell were Fiona MacKeown and her partner thinking of taking seven kids on a six-month 'dream trip' to India -- and then leaving one of them to fend for herself? Why wasn't Scarlette in school studying for her GCSEs?''


Initially, MacKeown got public sympathy when the Indian police insisted Scarlette, whose body was found on a beach, had drowned, but when the gory details about her murder emerged, sympathy turned into anger.


The Guardian's Melissa Benn asks: "Why, when a child goes missing, does the mother take the rap?


"Nobody will disagree that the actions of Fiona MacKeown were totally irresponsible, to leave your 15-year-old daughter in the care of strangers in a foreign country," said Michelle Tennyson on a blog to 'The Independent'.


Meanwhile, Goa has received some bad press in the British media after the death of Scarlett, but there are many here who continue to repose faith in the delights of the sun and sand.


Tour operators say there has not been any let up in holiday bookings in Goa. Many Britons follow the daily reports on television and newspapers, but have not changed plans to hop on to chartered planes to Goa due to the incident.


Many Britons flock to real estate exhibitions in London [Images], Manchester and elsewhere to buy property in Goa. Many have relocated to Goa, and some reports from Goa quote them as saying that they feel "very safe" in the state, and would never move back to the UK.


An army of British journalists has flocked to cover the Scarlette case. Apart from reports about the progress of the case, some have lamented the changing nature of what Goaoffers for tourists.


But there are many such as Mike Ryder of the Daily Mirror who sends glorious accounts of the great time one can have in Goa.


In a detailed report titled "Try India's funky holiday state of Goa for a jumbo adventure," he wrote: "Today it's still a fascinating combination of Portuguese and Indian.


"The food is fantastic and the Catholic churches have standing room only on Sundays. You'll find locals of mixed heritage with magnificent names like Aloysius or Josi, and the buses have slogans on the front like Jesus Saves. This is a

funky place..."


He ends his Sunday piece with the words: "So don't delay... go to Goa!''.

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