Ashington pirate-hunter's bid to come home backed by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

The MP said he would push Indian authorities for the release of former paratrooper Nick Dunn, from Northumberland

 

Nick Dunn from Ashington, who was jailed in India for almost six months

(Nick Dunn from Ashington)

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has joined the fight to bring pirate-hunter Nick Dunn home.

The MP is to press the Indian authorities to allow the 29-year-old and five other British men to return home after charges filed against them were quashed.

The call came as Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire confirmed further talks will take place about the men, who were arrested in October 2013 over illegally possessing weapons while working for a private US-owned ship.

Emergency travel documents were issued to three of the men last month but they still require permission from the Indian authorities to leave the country.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Swire said: “We have regularly raised this case at the most senior levels of government and have pressed for the legal process to be resolved as soon as possible.

“(Mr Hammond) will be raising this yet again when he visits India next week.

“Last month following requests from three of the men we issued emergency travel documents.

“The men will still require permission from the Indian authorities before they are able to leave the country.”

Labour MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery said he felt betrayed by the UK Government’s lack of support for the men in their hour of need.

Nick, a former paratrooper of Ashington, Northumberland, was working for US private maritime company Advanfort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship - MV Seaman Guard Ohio - was detained.

Sister of Ashington Pirate Hunter Lisa Dunn has praised the team's effort
(Sister of Ashington Pirate Hunter Lisa Dunn has praised the team's effort)

Nick’s sister Lisa, 35, also of Ashington, said: “We are very pleased that the Foreign Secretary is going to raise the case again when he visits India but we need them to put more pressure on them.

“We hope he can ask the questions that we want answering, including why the men can’t return home.

“These lads have had the last 17 months of their lives taken away.”

Mr Swire insisted the issue had been raised “again and again at the highest possible level”, adding: “What we cannot do is simply ignore the Indian judicial process or indeed interfere with it.

“That is not to say that we do not share MPs’ frustrations about the pace of progress.”

Mr Lavery told Mr Swire: “These six British soldiers all fought for the British Army on the front.

“They feel utterly betrayed by the Government because of what they see as a lack of assistance in their hour or need.

“They were all acquitted, free, on July 10 last year.

“We must be able to do something to get these people home. We must redouble our efforts.”

Mr Swire listed numerous ministerial and diplomatic talks on the issue before repeating Britain could not ignore the Indian judicial process.