Appeal for Prime Minister to press for release of Catterick man detained in India

Darlington and Stockton Times: APPEAL: David Cameron is being urged to press for the release of six former British soldiers jailed in India. APPEAL: David Cameron is being urged to press for the release of six former British soldiers jailed in India.

RELATIVES of six former British soldiers jailed in India are set to deliver a 100,000-signature petition to Downing Street urging the UK Government to intervene.

Married father-of-two Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, is among the group who were arrested on October 12 and have been in prison in India since October 24.

Supporters of the men, who were working for US private maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship was detained, are calling on the Prime Minister to press for the group’s release.

Indian authorities claim the vessel entered Indian waters illegally with weapons on board, despite AdvanFort insisting the ship had the correct papers.

They were granted bail in December, but after objections from Indian officials, are yet to be released.

According to relatives, an Indian security adviser has said that if the British government were to provide assurances, the men would probably be released.

Mr Simpson’s wife, Tracy, said she and their sons, Jai, 11, and Sam, eight, had been devastated by 43-year-old former sergeant’s detention.

She said: "It's a complete nightmare. He came home from his last trip in September and was only back for ten days when the company asked him to go back out as a favour, which he did.

"We are all just waiting every day to hear something about them coming home, but that news never comes.

"It is a long time to be away from your family. We miss him very much."

She said: "I just hope that one day we can get them all back home. These are just normal guys doing a job, they belong at home with us.

"The only way we carry on is to keep on being hopeful."

The Foreign Office has described case as “difficult” and said both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had raised the matter with Indian ministers.

A Foreign Office spokesman added: "We will continue to do all that we can.

"Consular staff continue to provide full assistance to all those British nationals detained. They are visiting regularly.

"While we are unable to demand the release of British nationals, or interfere in another country's legal processes, we continue to make very clear our interest in this case, and the importance of ensuring that it is resolved as quickly as possible.”

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