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Presidential apprentice dies in Algerian gas plant siege

Consultants and contractors were last week warned of the dangers of working in north Africa after former ICE presidential apprentice Sebastian John was named among the 69 killed in the terrorist siege at a BP gas plant in Algeria.

BP engineer John was one of six British engineers thought to have been killed in the siege. He was one of Richard Coackley’s presidential apprentices in 2011/12.

Speaking to NCE, former British ambassador to Algeria and British Expertise chief executive Graham Hand warned of the “danger of repetition”.

“Nothing like this has ever happened [in Algeria] before; certainly not on this scale and with this level of reaction,” he said. “Terrorist organisations crave the oxygen of publicity and so they are likely to have been pleased.”

“Companies may have legitimate concerns about going to Algeria,” he added. “Some may consider it too risky and decide not to go there.”

Last week the Foreign Office issued a warning to westerners in Benghazi in neighbouring Libya.

“We are aware of a specific, imminent threat to westerners in Benghazi and urge British nationals who are there against our advice to leave immediately,” it said.

“Following French military intervention in Mali, there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting western interests in the region. We advise vigilance.”

John was caught up in the siege having joined BP from Arup last year. He joined Arup as a graduate in 2010 as was working in its rail team while he was Coackley’s apprentice.

“It was an absolute honour and a pleasure to have him as my apprentice last year and I know he will be greatly missed by all. I join everyone in mourning the tragic loss of a great young man and civil engineer,” said Coackley.

John was involved with the ICE’s graduate and student network, GSNet, during his time at ICE East Midlands.

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