[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 00:24 GMT
Thai murder concerns played down
Katherine Horton
Katherine Horton was killed on Koh Samui on 1 January
The Foreign Office played down its concerns about the threat of attacks on travellers to Thailand after Katherine Horton's murder, the BBC has learned.

After the killing of the 21-year-old Briton on Koh Samui on 1 January, officials considered revising advice.

But they decided not to mention her murder and others prominently on the FO website to "avoid disproportionate impact" - e-mails from staff reveal.

The FO later denied being influenced by "commercial considerations".

The office also said Britons' safety and accurate information were "paramount".

Katherine, 21, from Cardiff, was raped and murdered after she wandered off from friends to make a mobile phone call on the beach.

Two fishermen are appealing against a death sentence for rape and murder.

Increased crime

On the news of her death, intensive consultations began between British diplomats in Thailand and London over how to update the FO travel advice.

There was already concern over increased crime in the area - she was the ninth Briton to be murdered in Thailand in 18 months.

But the emails, obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, show that officials decided against mentioning the murders at the top of the FO web page.

"The trouble with that is that it will effectively highlight the number of murders over the last year or more here, which in the current circumstances could have a disproportionate impact on Thailand's reputation and its legitimate commercial interests," the e-mail said.

The personal safety of British nationals abroad is of paramount concern to the Foreign Office
Foreign Office

Instead, the murders were mentioned lower down.

Speaking on Monday night, the Foreign Office stressed that nine murders represented only "a tiny percentage" of British visitors to Thailand.

"The personal safety of British nationals abroad is of paramount concern to the Foreign Office," it said in a statement.

"Foreign Office travel advice is not influenced by commercial considerations."

The "utmost importance" was attached to providing accurate information, it added.

See the report on emails sent by Foreign Office diplomats

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific