Thursday 29 September 2016

Advice on Spanish nudists and English bacon among Brits' bizarre consular calls

Published 07/04/2016 | 00:06

Britons abroad have made a number of unnecessary calls to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Britons abroad have made a number of unnecessary calls to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

A man concerned by Spanish nudists and a homesick expat asking where he could buy English bacon are among the most bizarre consular calls made by Britons abroad in the past year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said.

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The operators, who should only be contacted in emergencies, were also contacted by a lady in Lebanon looking for help recruiting an English butler and a man in Singapore asking for assistance obtaining illegal employment.

Foreign minister James Duddridge said: "Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world - but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory inquiries.

"Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone."

The unusual calls also included a man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes and a woman expressing her disappointment that the British Embassy had not sent someone to give her a tour of St Petersburg on her arrival in Russia.

Almost half a million calls were made to the FCO's consular service in the past year.

The vast majority were from people with genuine requests, including 3,250 Britons who were hospitalised, 4,770 who were arrested and the families of 3,670 who died overseas.

Almost 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.

Press Association

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