Timeline: British hostages in Iraq

The body of the last of five British men kidnapped in Iraq in 2007 has been returned to the UK authorities.

The British Embassy in Baghdad said a body handed over to them is that of Alan McMenemy, a security guard from Glasgow.

The bodies of Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, of Glasgow, were returned to the UK in June 2009, followed by the body of Alec MacLachlan, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, in September of that year.

Peter Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln, was released alive in December, 2009. Here is a timeline of key dates in the case since May 2007.


20 January: The British Embassy in Baghdad confirms that a body handed over to them is that of Alan McMenemy.

5 January: Reports emerge that Iraqi militia Asaib al-Haq are prepared to return the body of Alan McMenemy, more than four years after he was abducted. The Foreign Office says it is working with Iraqi authorities to resolve the situation.


21 June: Inquests into the deaths of Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell and Alec MacLachlan rule that they were unlawfully killed.

The Foreign Office says it believes Alan McMenemy has been killed and it is continuing its efforts to secure his return.


29 May: The wife of Alan McMenemy, the only one of the five hostages still missing, appeals to his kidnappers to show "mercy and compassion" and end her ordeal, on the anniversary of his abduction.


30 December: Peter Moore is released from captivity in Iraq.

18 December: Families of Peter Moore and Alan McMenemy appeal for the release of the two men.

7 September: The body of Alec MacLachlan is flown back to the UK.

3 September: A body handed to UK authorities in Iraq is identified as that of Alec MacLachlan.

Gordon Brown vows to bring Mr MacLachlan's killers to justice, adding that no family should have to endure what his have gone through.

2 September: Iraqi authorities receive a body that they believe is one of the hostages who have yet to be accounted for, Foreign Secretary David Miliband says.

29 July: The BBC learns that British officials believe it is "very likely" that two of the remaining hostages are dead.

The Foreign Office has told the families of Alan McMenemy and Alec MacLachlan to prepare themselves for the worst.

29 June: Sources tell the BBC that the two hostages died from gunshot wounds.

26 June: The bodies of Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell are flown back to the UK by the RAF.

The Foreign Office says it is doing all it can to ensure the release of the remaining hostages.

21 June: The two bodies are confirmed to be those of security guards Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell.

20 June: Two bodies feared to be those of the British hostages are handed to authorities, Foreign Secretary David Miliband says.

Forensic tests are carried out, but families "fear the worst".

9 June: Shia leader Laith al-Khazali is transferred from US military to Iraqi custody, prompting some hope of a breakthrough.

Al-Khazali is one of the militants whose release has been demanded by the kidnappers.

But US and UK officials insist the handover is not part of a prisoner transfer.

27 May: A day before the second anniversary of the kidnapping, Foreign Secretary David Miliband calls for the men's "immediate and unconditional release".

27 March: The Guardian newspaper reports claims by the kidnappers that they have reached a deal over their captives' release.

A statement from the militants says that Britain and the US have agreed to trade one hostage for 10 detained Sadrist militants. The Foreign Office refuses to comment.


12 Dec: Mr Moore's family holds a vigil for him in London. The following week the families of all five men meet the prime minister to discuss the ongoing captivity.

20 July: A video tape is passed to the Sunday Times claiming one of the men, known only Jason, is dead. The tape says he killed himself on 25 May.

In a statement, the captors blame the "procrastination and foot-dragging and lack of seriousness on the part of the British government" for Jason's "psychological deterioration".

The video also shows another British hostage, Alan, discussing his plight.

"Physically, I'm not doing well. Psychologically, I'm doing a lot worse," he says.

The prime minister calls it an "abhorrent film".

29 May: On the anniversary of the men's capture, their relatives speak to the BBC.

Lisette, the sister of one of the hostages named Jason, says: "Please, please release my brother, he's a father, a son, and a brother to myself. We miss him dearly."

26 Feb: A second video from the kidnappers is aired. The footage shows a man, who gives his name as Peter Moore, appealing to Gordon Brown to help secure the hostages' release.

He asks the prime minister to free nine Iraqis held by coalition forces in exchange for his and his colleagues' freedom.

Later, Downing Street says Mr Brown has spoken with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki by telephone about the situation.

"Both leaders deplored the taking and public parading of hostages and agreed to continue their close co-operation to secure their early release," a spokesman said afterwards.


12 Dec: Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey appeals for the men's safe return.

4 Dec: A tape, dated 18 November, is released by the kidnappers, who call themselves the Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq. They say they will kill one of the men as a "first warning" unless UK forces leave the country within 10 days.

In the film, one of the men gives his name as Jason, says he has been held for 173 days and adds: "I feel we have been forgotten." He is flanked by gunmen.

The UK government condemns the video, saying it will "add to the distress of the men's families and friends".

6 Sept: The families of the five men make a plea for their release. The relatives say they are "ordinary family men" and urged the captors to end their "torment".

Foreign Secretary David Miliband promises the government will "do all it can" to secure the hostages' release.

7 June: British ambassador to Iraq Dominic Asquith issues a statement in English and Arabic appealing for information about the men's whereabouts. He says he is "greatly concerned" about them.

30 May: Senior aide of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr says the Mehdi Army was not behind the kidnap, but searches of the militia's stronghold, Sadr City, continue for several days.

29 May: Five British men are seized at Baghdad's Ministry of Finance. Their captors, a group of about 40, are dressed as Iraqi policemen.

Four of the men abducted are security guards working for a company called Gardaworld. Their names are understood to be Jason, Alan, Jason and Alec.

The man they were protecting - IT expert Peter Moore, who is 32 and from Lincoln - is also taken. He works for American management consultancy Bearingpoint.