Lynne Spalding death: Consular 'snub' claim by twin brother
- 9 January 2014
- From the section England
The twin brother of a British woman found dead in a US hospital stairwell has said UK officials refused to help him discover how she died.
Lynne Spalding, 57, from Haswell in County Durham, was being treated at San Francisco General Hospital when she disappeared on 21 September.
She was found 17 days later after a flawed search.
Her brother Bill said he was treated "like a pariah" by UK consular staff when he visited the city.
The Foreign Office said it would not comment on individual cases, but said Mr Spalding could complain in writing about any perceived failings.
Ms Spalding, who moved to San Francisco several years ago and worked in the city's tourism and hospitality industry, was being treated for a bladder infection at the hospital.
Following her disappearance, the hospital was searched and police opened a missing person investigation. But Sheriff Department deputies failed to look in all the stairwells.
It later emerged the department had 30% fewer staff than usual.
Mr Spalding, from Easington Lane, near Sunderland, has criticised delays in the ongoing US investigation into his sister's death, including a medical examiner's report, which suggested she was an alcoholic.
He said when he arrived in San Francisco for his sister's memorial service, he asked consular staff if they would help arrange a visit to the hospital so he could "spend a quiet moment" where she died.
But he said he was instead referred to a public relations executive acting for Ms Spalding's two American-born children.
Mr Spalding eventually persuaded hospital officials to allow him access to the stairwell.
The 57-year-old, who works as a carer for adults with autism, said: "I just want to find out if Lynne suffered and if so for how long.
"I'm a British citizen seeking help from the British government about how my sister died and I've been offered no help or advice or assistance. It's disgraceful.
"I have no interest in any litigation, which I know has been talked about in America. I just want the truth about my sister's last days and hours.
"When I arrived at the consular office in San Francisco they initially claimed not to know who I was and thought I was a reporter trying to get inside information about Lynne's death. How ridiculous is that?"
Mr Spalding said he would be making a fresh appeal to the Foreign Office to speed up the investigation into his sister's death.
A spokesman for San Francisco General Hospital said: "The tragic death of Lynne Spalding was a horrible event that should never have happened. Our hearts go out to Ms Spalding's family and friends and we are keeping them foremost in our minds as we work to understand what went wrong.
"We have been doing everything we can to learn the facts and to ensure that it never happens again.
"With the medical examiner's report complete, there is more information now available. We have not yet had a chance to review the report, but we hope that it can help the family and hospital better understand what happened.
"Although the picture is becoming more complete, we may never know everything about this tragedy, and questions may continue."