‘We would have raised cash, we were desperate’

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FOR the past four months the family of kidnapped aid worker Khalil Dale have been subjected to a terrible ordeal, hoping to hear good news but fearing the worst.

Now his murder has been confirmed, two of his relatives in Yorkshire are asking whether he could have been saved if his family had been allowed to pay the ransom.

Since Khalil was abducted at gunpoint in January, while working in Quetta in Pakistan, for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) his employers had been working to secure his release.

Just last week, relatives say they were told there might be a positive outcome after a video was released which appeared to show the 60-year-old was in good health. Four days later they were coming to terms with his brutal murder.

Mr Dale’s body was found abandoned in an orchard in Pakistan with a note from his kidnappers saying he had been killed because they had not received a ransom.

His sister-in-law Margaret Dale and her daughter Kathryn Kettlespring, who both live in York, say they would have liked the chance to have raised money if they had known there was no prospect of it being paid.

Mrs Kettlespring, 46, said: “Last Monday we were told that there had been a video released and he looked quite healthy and well and we were told that there might be some news on Wednesday of last week. Wednesday came and went by and we heard nothing and then Thursday and Friday and the same on Saturday and then we heard the news just before it was released to the media that he had been found. It was just absolutely devastating.”

Khalil’s family in Yorkshire had been receiving updates from his brother Ian in New Zealand.

Last week they were told that “proof of life” had been asked for and a video of the aid worker had been released.

This gave them hope that efforts to secure his release were progressing.

A Red Cross spokeswoman said: “All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil’s family and friends. We have been in close contact with Khalil’s immediate family and friends throughout, from the time of his abduction on January 5, and have been working tirelessly for his release.

“We are devastated. Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member, who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause.

The policy of the ICRC is that it does not pay ransom and systematically calls for the unconditional release of an abducted colleague.

“ The fact that the ICRC does not pay ransoms does not prevent it from identifying other means to secure the safe release of a colleague in the context of a dialogue with the abductors.”

Mrs Dale said: “If the British government were not going to pay the ransom and the Red Cross weren’t then his family should have been given the chance. We were desperate to get him out.”

She has also written to Foreign Secretary William Hague to voice her disappointment that the Foreign Office has not contacted her to inform her of Khalil’s death.

Mrs Dale was married to Glyn – who was one of three half-brothers of Khalil, along with Peter and Alan.

The Yorkshire Post carried an exclusive interview on Tuesday with Peter, who lives in Bramham, near Leeds. He said that Khalil had known the risks he was facing and had died doing the job that he loved. He also revealed that Khalil was planning to marry his fiancee Anne soon.

The three brothers Glyn, Peter and Alan shared the same father as Khalil: Willam Dale who remarried after their mother died.

Khalil was born in York, in a nursing home near the Minster. His family moved to Manchester and then Dumfries in Scotland.

After working as a nurse he spent more than three decades as a humanitarian worker delivering aid in some of the most dangerous parts of the world including Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Mrs Dale paid tribute to him yesterday. “He did not have a bad bone in his body. He should have had wings to be honest. I have a lump of rage in my stomach for the people who did this to him but he wouldn’t be like this.

“I have known him since he was three and he is 60. I have known him almost all of his life and have seen him grow up.

“We would see him when he came back from his work around the world but after a while he would want to get back to it. He would get itchy feet.”