29th November 2017
A former soldier from Chester is to return to the UK - 4 years after a campaign was started to overturn a prison sentence for weapons offences in India.
42-year-old Ray Tindall, from Newton, and five other colleagues were working on an anti-piracy ship when it was impounded by the Indian authorities in October 2013.
Known as the ‘Chennai six’, the group were accused of illegally possessing weapons and were later jailed for five years having protested their innocence from the start.
A campaign to release them was fronted by Ray’s family and friend’s ever since. They claimed all six were wrongly convicted and that not enough evidence had been given to justify the sentence.
Chester MP Chris Matheson had also been involved in calling for the release. He used his status in parliament to call for an enquiry into the group’s imprisonment, asking the then Prime Minister David Cameron to speak with the Indian Prime Minister to try and negotiate their release in January last year.
Speaking to Dee News following the announcement, Mr Matheson said: “The Indian’s knew what they had on board. Still to this day, nobody knows why they decided to arrest the men on the second visit. That will remain one of the great mystery’s of this case.”
Given their release has come at the end of November, it could mean they’ll return back to Britain in time for Christmas.
But Mr.Matheson says he thinks getting their documents back could take a few weeks: “The Indian bureaucracy is notorious for dragging their feet a bit. It’s all about cutting through that as quickly as possible and getting the lads on a plane home.
“It’s a question of getting them through and getting them on that plane as soon as possible. It’s still unclear though how long that might take.”
Together with Billy Irving, from Connel, Argyll and Bute, Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland, Paul Towers, from Pocklington, John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria, and Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick, North Yorkshire, the group were acquitted of all charges according to their lawyer.