'Utter revulsion' as hostage is beheaded

THE grief-stricken family of murdered hostage Ken Bigley paid tribute last night to his "compassion and sense of humour" – but said the horror of the ordeal would "haunt us for ever'.

THE grief-stricken family of murdered hostage Ken Bigley paid tribute last night to his "compassion and sense of humour" – but said the horror of the ordeal would "haunt us for ever'.

Phil Bigley, 49, from Ipswich, Ken's younger brother, confirmed to the world what they had feared the most – he had been brutally executed.

He read a televised family statement after speculation mounted throughout yesterday that efforts to save Mr Bigley's life had failed.

As the world reacted with revulsion to news of his death last night, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw revealed contact was made with the hostage takers just days ago.

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Messages were exchanged with the kidnappers after an intermediary contacted the British Embassy in Baghdad, but the captors' demands never altered.

In the family statement, Phil Bigley said: "We can confirm that the family has received absolute proof that Ken Bigley was executed by his captors.

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"How we all, as individuals, handle crisis situations will differ from person to person, family member to family member.

"It is important to be considerate of one another's views and actions.

"In that respect, the family here in Liverpool believes that our Government did all it possibly could to secure the release of Ken in this impossible situation.

"It could be that the fate of Ken, Eugene and Jack was sealed from day one. We will never know."

He added: "Over the last few weeks we have successfully shielded our mother from the painful and graphic details shown on television and in the press.

"The bereavement of a child, no matter how old, is hard enough without this additional anguish.

"The family would like to ask the media to help by leaving us to grieve in the privacy of our own homes and continue to respect that privacy thereafter.

"Our mother is home from hospital and wants me to thank everyone for such kind thoughts and wishes, and to tell you that she will be strong for her family.

"To those who have prayed for Ken and our family, from all religious backgrounds, we thank you.

"We will always remember Ken for his love, compassion and, above all, his 'Liverpool' sense of humour.

"He was a truly wonderful father, husband, brother and son. The loss to our family, especially to Craig and Ken's wife, Lek, is immeasurable."

Mr Bigley continued: "The horror of these final days will haunt us for ever.

"Our only consolation is that Ken is now at peace, away from those who are capable of such atrocities.

"At least he will now be in the caring hands of his son Paul, who he loved dearly.

"We will pray for Ken and his colleagues, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, and their families.

"We truly hope solutions can be found to stop future bloodshed and the loss of innocent lives.'

Messages of sympathy poured in for the family from across the world, with the Bigley family receiving huge praise for the way they had dealt with the ordeal.

Speaking at his country retreat Chequers Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "I feel desperately sorry for Kenneth Bigley and his family who have behaved with extraordinary dignity and courage.

"I feel utter revulsion at the people that did this, not just at the barbaric nature of the killing but the way, frankly, they have played with the situation over the last few weeks.

"And I feel a strong sense, as I hope others do, that the actions of these people, whether in Iraq or elsewhere, should not prevail over people like Kenneth Bigley, who after all, only wanted to make Iraq and the world a better place.'

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