Alice Gross (centre) with her sister Nina Gross (left) and her mother Rosalind Hodgkiss
Nina Gross, 19, branded the discussion as “extremely insensitive” and “horrible” after a panel of politicians debated immigration issues arising from the investigation into the 14-year-old’s death. An audience member asked whether convicted criminals should be allowed to cross Europe’s borders, which prompted a discussion over whether convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns, the prime suspect in Alice’s murder, should have been allowed in to Britain. As the debate got underway the Cambridge University student took to Twitter to express her outrage. She wrote: “It is extremely insensitive to use my family’s tragedy for political agendas and discussion. This is a time of grief for our family. In future, please respect our wishes as we grieve. “This is a personal tragedy which we want to deal with privately, rather than fearing anyone using it for any political agenda. “Now is not the time for these discussions.” This is the first time Miss Gross has spoken since her sister was found dead in the River Brent, west London, on Tuesday. In later posts directed at BBC Twitter accounts, she added: “It is really insensitive and horrible that you have used our family’s tragedy on Question Time.”
The BBC later issued an apologised.
A post from the show’s Twitter account said: “Dear Nina, we’re sorry to hear this. We’re really sorry for any hurt or offence caused by tonight’s programme.” Appearing to accept the apology, Nina replied: “Thank you” and retweeted the apology. The outrage began after Question Time host David Dimbleby opened the debate and said a question was submitted to the panel referring to the “hideous murder of Alice Gross.” He said: “The question is whether there should be freedom of movement including convicted criminals across EU borders.” A discussion lasting around eight minutes followed. Alice was last seen on August 28 after leaving her home in Hanwell, west London. Latvian Arnis Zalkalns was identified as a suspect by police after he was spotted following Alice along the canal towpath where she was last seen.
Floral tributes have been laid in west London by well-wishers in memory of Alice Gross
The 41-year-old has been missing since September 3. He spent seven years in prison for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite to death. He is thought to have come to the UK in 2007 from Latvia, but UK authorities allegedly have no record of this conviction. Yesterday, police said a post-mortem examination had proved inconclusive and they will need to carry out further tests to determine how the teenager died. Alice’s parents Rosalind Hodgkiss and Jose Gross described themselves as “completely devastated” after their daughter’s body was found.
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