David Cameron has revealed how he personally lobbied the president of Sri Lanka over the murder of Rochdale aid worker Khuram Shaikh.
The Red Cross worker was killed by a mob on Christmas Day 2011 in the beach resort of Tangalle.
Nobody has yet appeared in court over the murder despite a two-year campaign by his family. However, after a major international summit took place in the country – heightening scrutiny of its human rights record – six men were finally charged over the killing a fortnight ago.
Their trial will take place next month.
Now Mr Cameron has revealed his personal intervention in the case during the Commonwealth heads of state meeting.
In a letter to Khuram’s MP Simon Danczuk , who has been campaigning on the case, he writes: “That his death elicited such a wide response of support shows the regard in which Mr Shaikh was held. His death is indeed a tragic loss. I raised this shocking and appalling case with President Rajapaksa when we met during the Commonwealth heads of government meeting.
“I explained the importance of this case and how urgent it is that it be resolved. The President informed me the case was progressing and the trial had been expedited by transfer to the Colombo High Court. We will, of course, continue to monitor progress very closely and I will ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to get in touch to let you know how this process is progressing.”
Khuram, from Milnrow, was trying to protect his girlfriend when he was shot and stabbed to death. The 32-year-old had been staying in the southern resort during a break from his work as a prosthetic limb expert for the Red Cross.
As the months went by following the killing, the issue was repeatedly raised in Parliament by Mr Danczuk, amid claims that Sri Lanka’s political classes had closed ranks to stall the case. Among those now charged over his killing are Tangalle politician Sampath Vidanapathiranage who belongs to the president’s ruling party.
With the word “very” underlined, Mr Cameron emphasises in a handwritten post-script to the letter: “I raised it very directly and am sure that the high commissioner will follow up with you.”