British press blames Scarlett’s mom

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 17, 2008 06:17 hrs

London: After days of support, a nasty press campaign has begun here against the mother of Scarlett Keeling, a British teenager who was murdered in Goa.

The Mail unleashed a vicious attack on Scarlett's mother Fiona MacKeown after the discovery of pictures showing the ‘scruffy’ interior of the family's caravan home in Devon.

Also read: Scarlett died due to drug overdose, drowning | Police cover up British girl’s murder: Doctor | Prime suspect arrested

"As these pictures show, this is the squalor in which Scarlett Keeling was being raised. It is a million miles from the fantasy world of a wholesome family upbringing painted by her mother in the past two weeks," the paper says.

It questions MacKeown's unconventional upbringing of her child, claiming there is a "growing army of critics who believe she (MacKeown) fatally let her eldest daughter down."

On Wednesday, the paper's columnist Allison Pearson accused MacKeown of a "dereliction of duty" for allowing her daughter to go "hippy globetrotting."

She adds: "Forgive me for being a boringly conventional bourgeois mum, but what the hell were Fiona MacKeown and her partner thinking of taking seven kids on a six-month 'dream trip' to India - and then leaving one of them to fend for herself? Why wasn't Scarlett in school studying for her GCSEs?"

Initially, MacKeown got public sympathy when the Indian police insisted Scarlett, whose body was found on a beach, had drowned, but when the gory details about her murder emerged, sympathy turned into anger.

The Guardian's Melissa Benn asks: "Why, when a child goes missing, does the mother take the rap?"

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