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David Tebbutt And Judith Tebbutt: What Really Happened At Kenya’s Kiwayu Safari Village

by | 13th, September 2011

DAVID Tebbutt, 58, has been shot dead in Kenya. His wife Judith, 56, has been kidnapped. The couple from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, were holidaying at the Kiwayu Safari Village luxury resort, near the border with Somalia.

The media reacts:

The Telegraph says Mrs Tebbutt is deaf. She has only 30-40% hearing and wears a double hearing aid.

There are growing fears that Judith Tebbutt, 56, has been taken across the nearby border into lawless Somalia after she was seized by six gunmen who broke into the couple’s £560-a-night beach hut at Kiwayu Safari Village in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Sky News adds the obligatory celebrity angle:

The attack happened at the remote beach resort, reportedly favoured by artist Tracey Emin, actress Imelda Staunton and Sir Mick Jagger.

We also learn that the resort costs £278 a night.

Daily Mail (front page): “NOW SPECIAL FORCES JOPIN HUNT”

Last night British Special Forces involved in tracking down Al Qaeda-linked groups and Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean were said to be ‘gathering intelligence’ on possible kidnappers. They could be supported by UK troops currently on routine training operations in Kenya.

Yep, the fact is just a pretty good guess.

Locals have claimed that British soldiers on training operations in Kenya had been involved in the search but this was denied yesterday by military officials – who never comment on the deployment of Special Forces.

What else do we know for certain?

It emerged yesterday that Mrs Tebbutt had still been in her night clothes when the gunmen escaped with her by motor boat minutes after finding the couple in their £600-a-night thatched beach cottage.

That beach bungalow is getting more expensive.

Mr Tebbutt, 58, finance director of publishers Faber and Faber, was killed in his pyjamas at midnight on Saturday – just hours after the couple arrived at the remote beach resort 18 miles from the border with war-torn Somalia.

Daily Mirror (front page): “INSIDE JOB?”

The Mirror turns the apparent murder of a Briton overseas and a kidnap into a mystery:

THE ruthless Somali gunmen who snatched Judith Tebbutt murdered her husband execution-style with a single shot to the head, it was revealed last night.

Ryan Parry and Stewart Maclean are in Kenya. They pepper their report with emotive language:

His terrified wife, 56, was dragged to a speedboat, which roared off east towards Somalia.

As for the inside job theory:

One security source said: “There are not too many comings and goings at this hotel and everyone in the local area knows when a plane lands at the airstrip.

“It is possible a local, or a member of the hotel staff, deliberately or accidentally let slip when the British couple arrived.”

In place to fact, the Mirror’s two men on the scene do as Sky does and spice up the story with a dash of stardust:

Kenyan officials yesterday described the tragedy as a one-off and claimed the exclusive resort – used by stars including Sir Mick Jagger – was protected by round-the-clock security.

Any other facts?

They checked into the £900-a-night resort, near the island of Lamu, at 4pm on Saturday.

The two reporters also find a source to say that the spectacle of Mr Tebbutt’s dead body was a “horrible sight”.

I (front page): “Kenyans hold man in hunt for kidnapped British widow”

The Independent takes up the story:

Last night it was reported that a man had been arrested by police investigating the murder. The man, thought to be in his early 40s, is suspected of being in communication with an accomplice from Somalia, and lives near the resort where the murder took place.

Well, you need to make an early arrest to look like you know what you are doing.

The paper says Mr Tebbutt died a hero – although we have no idea what really happened:

Friends and colleagues last night paid tribute to the executive and said it was “completely within character” that he died trying to protect his wife. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack; nor have there been any reports of a ransom demand.

Desmond Clarke, former chief executive of Faber and Faber, worked with Mr Tebbutt for 10 years at Thomson Reuters where the murdered man was divisional finance director for legal and academic publishing.

“It is very typical of David to try to save his wife by taking on the kidnappers. He was a delightful man to work with who combined professional seriousness with enormous personal charm.”

The BBC says he died in a struggle with the kidnappers. But how does it know that? And wasn’t he executed?

There are more facts:

One of a growing number of upmarket Indian Ocean resorts, Kiwayu charges £278 per night for a stay in one of its 18 beachside bungalows. Artist Tracey Emin and the actress Imelda Staunton have both visited.

It has six policemen assigned to it, and employs 20 guards.

Evening Standard (front page): “BRITISH WIFE HELD BY AL QAEDA GANG”

There has been speculation that the kidnappers could be from an al Qaida-linked insurgent group called al Shabab, which holds much of southern Somalia.

The BBC’s Will Ross says “worryingly Somalia is just 90 minutes away”

Most people here are convinced the group came from Somalia, either pirates or men with links to Islamist insurgents, al-Shabab.

One resident told me the gunmen even forced a Kenyan to guide them to the resort.

We also learn on the BBC:

The Foreign Office continues to advise against all but essential travel to within 30km (18 miles) of Kenya’s border with Somalia. There have been previous attacks by Somali militia into Kenya, it says.

In her 2009 travel report, The Financial Times’ Sophie Roberts said the Kiwayu resort was 60km from the Somalian border. The Mail says that same border is “nearby”.

After all the media guesswork it is left to the Bookseller to stick to the facts:

Tebbutt was shot dead in a gang attack at the Kenyan tourist resort of Kiwayu yesterday (11th September). His wife Judith was kidnapped.




Posted: 13th, September 2011 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink