Foreign Office failings mean no justice for woman assaulted overseas

Organisation we investigated: Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO)

Date investigation closed: April 2022

The complaint

Ms B complained that FCDO gave her incomplete and misleading information after she reported a rape. She was left unable to pursue legal action as a result of these failings and the experience has caused her serious emotional distress.


While on holiday in Turkey, Ms B reported to the British Consulate that she had been raped. She was not given appropriate information about local police procedures or how to get legal advice. She was also not told that a forensic examination would be necessary for a police investigation to take place. This meant that she did not follow the necessary processes to pursue a criminal investigation in Turkey and waited until she was back in the UK to report the crime. At this point, the British Police and a British solicitor were unable to investigate because the alleged crime had occurred in Turkey.

Ms B complained to the FCDO about the handling of her case but it did not address her concerns or take her complaint seriously.

What we found

We fully upheld Ms B’s complaint. We found that she was not given vital information which could have led to a police investigation, and she was not made aware that a forensic examination would be necessary. This meant she lost an opportunity to pursue a criminal investigation.

We also found her complaint to FCDO was not handled appropriately or compassionately. FCDO’s failings meant that Ms B was unable to bring her rapists to justice and has been left with the distress of knowing that a different outcome could have been possible if she had been taken more seriously.

We found that the actions of the FCDO compounded her distress and had a negative impact on her mental health.

Putting it right

PHSO has recommended that FCDO:

  • prepares a plan outlining what actions it will take to address the findings and share this and our final report with the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
  • pays  Ms B £20,000 to compensate for the unnecessary travel and legal expenses she incurred and to recognise the loss of opportunity to prosecute and the distress she experienced as a result of its failings.