East End writer labelled “vile” after joking about Thailand student deaths

An East End writer has apologised after jokey comments she made on Twitter about the deaths of three gap year students in Thailand sparked a huge backlash.

Kia Abdullah, who grew up in Tower Hamlets and has written several novels, was branded “vile” by one blogger after she implied she had little sympathy for the boys because they were on a gap year.

Bruno Melling-Firth, Conrad Quashie and Max Boomgaarden-Cook, died after the coach they were travelling in collided with a bus in Chiang Mai in the north of the country late last month.

Ms Abdullah, 29, said on her Twitter page she “actually smiled” when she saw they had double-barrelled surnames.

Another post stated: “Is it really awful that I don’t feel sympathy for anyone killed on a gap yaar? That’s awful, right? Yes, I’m a terrible person.”


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Other Twitter users reacted with disgust at the comments and Ms Abdullah retracted them shortly after.

One wrote: “You really are the sickest person I have come across in a long time, I hope you get no work for the rest of your miserable life.”

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Ms Abdullah said she apologised to the families over the weekend.

The writer, who has contributed the Docklands newspaper and The Guardian, admitted her comments were “utterly thoughtless” and described them as “clinical, desensitised and uninformed”.

She added in a statement: “The first comment was a deeply misguided attempt at black humour. I live in a time where comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr break every taboo with their dark comedy, and I stupidly thought it was okay to make a classist joke about a subject that should never be joked about.

“I do not know what it is like to lose a child. I lost a parent four years ago and to this day I break down in tears when I think about it so I can only imagine the pain you are going through.”

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