Family fight for answers nine years after son Jeremiah Duggan’s death

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:24 05 April 2012

Erica and Hugo Duggan have criticised the Foreign Office for its 'lack of support'. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Erica and Hugo Duggan have criticised the Foreign Office for its 'lack of support'. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email

The mother of a Golders Green student who died in Germany is still battling to piece together her son’s final hours as she marks the ninth anniversary of his death.

Jewish student Jeremiah Duggan, 22, was found dead in Wiesbaden on March 27, 2003 having travelled to the country to attend a conference against the Iraq war put on by LaRouche - not knowing it is a far Right organisation which has been accused of being a political cult.

Just an hour before his death he had desperately called his mother and told her: “Mum, I’m frightened, I need your help.”

Erica Duggan this week told the Ham&High: “It was very harrowing. It is the most terrible call to have received from a son. I am frozen into that moment.

“I am still trying to help him by finding out what happened to him that day. He asked for my help and nine years later I am still trying to help him.”

Witnesses said a man ran into the centre of the road and was hit by a brown Peugeot 406. An initial police investigation classified his death as suicide.

But questions were raised over the investigation after it emerged that witnesses were allowed to the leave the scene and cars were moved before being photographed.

The suicide verdict was rejected by a British coroner in 2003, and in 2010 the High Court granted Mr Duggan’s family a new inquest.

But the family’s optimism at this decision has soured as two years on the inquest remains adjourned following two preliminary hearings and investigations appear to have stalled.

Mrs Duggan, a retired teacher whose family fled the Nazis in the 1930s, says she feels abandoned by the Foreign Office.

She claims the German authorities have failed to interview key witnesses and crucial questions over her son’s death remain unanswered.

“The Foreign Office hasn’t supported us or put pressure on German police to investigate my son’s death,” she said.

“I would have thought the authorities would have wanted to set an example to see justice done for a British citizen, but then they behave like this to me. What kind of world do we live in?”

She added: “I feel I have been obstructed and my time wasted, but I am not going to let it stop me fighting to discover the truth.”

Frances Swaine, a leading human rights lawyer at Leigh Day who has been working with the Duggan family for seven years, called on the government to put pressure on the German authorities to reopen investigations.

She said: “I understand there are Foreign Office interventions that could have been made but haven’t. They could put severe pressure on the German goverment and they have chosen not to.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said he could not comment specifically on the inquest’s proceedings, but said staff had provided consular support to Mr Duggan’s family since 2003.

He added: “The Foreign Office cannot interfere in another country’s judicial system, just as they cannot interfere in ours.

“Any decision to re-open the investigation into Jeremiah’s death remains a matter for the German authorities alone.”

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