Ex-soldier Bill Shaw's battle for Afghan jail release

Bill Shaw with his MBE medal Bill Shaw has been made an MBE for his services in the armed forces

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The family of a British former serviceman in prison in Kabul say the UK government is not doing enough to get him released.

Bill Shaw, 52, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, was given a two-year sentence in April after he was found guilty by the newly-established anti-corruption court of bribery charges.

He was working for G4S, a company providing security for the British Embassy in Kabul.

In court, Shaw admitted paying for the release of two impounded vehicles last October but insisted he thought he was paying a legitimate fine, not offering a bribe.

He and his family have protested his innocence from the beginning. However, after a trip to visit him in Kabul, they feel disillusioned.

His wife, Liz, says: "He feels as though he's just been left there to carry the can and he's questioning why more isn't being done?

"We've written to the Queen, the prime minister, the foreign secretary and all we get are stock replies."

The government has said it would leave direct intervention in the case until after an appeal has been heard.

However, no date for a hearing has been set and it could be as much as two months away.

Shaw's daughter, Lisa Luckyn-Malone, from Dover, in Kent, says: "He needs help far sooner than that. He's in a pretty bad way out there and I think he's struggling.

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This is the kind of person we should protect if we are to honour the military covenant”

End Quote Charlie Elphicke Dover and Deal MP

"He's trying to put on a brave face but a man can only take so much. He needs help sooner rather than later."

That "brave face" can be seen in a letter penned by Shaw - his first communication with the wider world since being imprisoned - and handed to his family when they visited him.

"I have now been transferred to the infamous Pul-e-Charki prison and just about coping whilst we await the appeal process," it reads.

"The main thing that has helped me and my family during this stressful time is the amount of support and help from our friends and former colleagues, from the many years of service. Thank you."

Ms Luckyn-Malone says her father's 28 years in the Army put him in danger in Pul-e-Charki, where large numbers of Taliban prisoners are also held.

"He's constantly looking over his shoulder. He's got to keep his guard up and he shouldn't be living like this for so long," she says.

Political motives?

The family say Mr Shaw's military past is well-known inside the prison. One Taliban leader reportedly kissed him when he arrived, which they have taken to be a sinister gesture.

Their case has now been taken up by Dover and Deal MP, Charlie Elphicke, part of the new Conservative intake. He is urging the Foreign Office (FCO) to make representations to the Afghan government.

"He has an MBE. He was promoted from the ranks and ended his career as a major and a decorated officer," says Mr Elphicke.

"This is the kind of person we should protect if we are to honour the military covenant and it seems he isn't getting the assistance from the FCO that really he should have.

Liz Shaw and Lisa Luckyn-Malone After visiting Kabul, the family believe the government is doing too little

"Overshadowing this seems to be an issue of a political nature.

"The previous government was busy criticising the Afghan regime for having corrupt officials. There's more than a hint of suspicion the Afghan regime wanted to show that British people are also corrupt."

Mr Elphicke raised the issue in his maiden speech in the Commons, and hopes to meet a Foreign Office minister this week.

He says several other Tory MPs support him and are ready to go public if there is no change of tack from the government.

The family's Facebook campaign, Free Bill Shaw, is also filled with outrage, much from people who say they are servicemen.

One post reads: "An absolute scandal, I cannot believe our government still haven't done anything. As a serving soldier I feel betrayed on this man's behalf that our country still has not demanded his release."

The Foreign Office says it is following the case closely.

"We are continuing to provide consular assistance to Mr Shaw, including frequent visits to see him, and working to ensure the best possible treatment and facilities.

Rocket attacks

"We have been in frequent contact with Mr Shaw's family and employers."

However, Ms Luckyn-Malone says her father told her no-one had visited from the embassy in the previous nine weeks.

"The FCO have not been personally in touch with us of their own will.

"It's been through us writing to them asking for explanations, and we've had fairly standard letters back. That's it. Nothing's been explained to us, there have been no reassurances."

While they were in Kabul, the family experienced rocket attacks and demonstrations but they also praised local people for their kindness and hospitality.

Back home in Dover, Ms Luckyn-Malone's eight-year-old daughter Madeleine tells how she told her school assembly about writing to the Queen for help.

The family TV has been tuned more than ever before to rolling news. But recent trips to Kabul by William Hague and David Cameron brought no good news.

"We sit there in anticipation that something might be being said out there, excited that this might be the moment that can lead to dad's release," says Ms Luckyn-Malone.

"But then we feel very disappointed when the moment is passed and you realise perhaps he's a small fish in a very big ocean and not even being touched upon."

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