Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 11:42 UK

Diplomat to attend kidney talks

Christopher Rochester
Mr Rochester died of internal bleeding at Andreas Papandreou hospital

The family of a County Durham tourist who died on Rhodes are to hold talks with a Greek diplomat over a controversial bid to exhume his body.

Christopher Rochester died in 2000 when he fell from a balcony, and was missing a kidney when his body was flown home.

An organ later sent out failed a DNA genetic match, but Greek authorities want further samples from the body.

The country's UK ambassador has now agreed to send an aide to talks with Durham North's MP and a genetic expert.

'Positive sign'

Several DNA samples are already available, including one from a biopsy the 24-year-old underwent before his death.

Mr Rochester's family said they hoped the meeting could establish there is no need for an exhumation.

It will be attended by Durham North MP Kevan Jones and Professor John Burn, head of Newcastle University's Institute of Human Genetics, who carried out the tests on the organ.

George Cummings, Mr Rochester's step-father, said: "It's a positive sign that the Greeks have agreed to come.

"They didn't turn up for the original inquest and we didn't expect them to attend this meeting.

Pam and George Cummings
Pam and George Cummings say the organ's removal was a criminal act

"We will be able to ask them directly why they want Chris's body exhumed when we already have undisputed access to his DNA.

"This needs to be cleared up as soon as possible, so we can prosecute those responsible for this premeditated criminal act."

Mr and Mrs Cummings, of Chester-le-Street, have already fought a seven-year-campaign to convict a doctor of manslaughter by neglect over Mr Rochester's death.

In February, Greek doctor Stergios Pavlidis was sentenced to 15 months in jail, suspended for three years, following a private prosecution.

Three doctors were found guilty of manslaughter by neglect in 2002 but were cleared on appeal in 2005.


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