Minister visits Britons jailed in India

Nick Dunn and Billy Irving
Image caption Nick Dunn (l) and Billy Irving are among those jailed in India

The Foreign Office has said it is doing "all it can" for six British seaman jailed in India.

Mark Field, the UK's minister for Asia, visited the men on Wednesday at Puzhal prison in Chenai.

The six men were arrested in October 2013 on illegal weapons charges. They were convicted and jailed for five years in 2016.

The men have continued to protest their innocence and Mr Field said he updated them on the progress of their appeal.

"These men have been separated from their families for four years and have had an incredibly difficult experience," he said.

"I wanted to meet with them personally to give them my assurance that we are still doing everything we can to help them.

"It is not for us to tell India's independent justice system what to do, we cannot and should not, but we can make clear the importance we place on this case."

The British men - all former soldiers - are:

  • Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland
  • Billy Irving, from Connel, Argyll
  • Ray Tindall, from Chester
  • Paul Towers, from Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire
  • John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria
  • Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick, North Yorkshire

The men all worked for the US maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship, MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was detained and weapons found.

The men have denied any wrongdoing, saying the weapons were properly licensed.

The charges against them and 29 other crew members were initially dropped but they were all convicted after a successful appeal by the Indian authorities.

The issue has been raised by both the prime minister and the foreign secretary with the Indian government in recent months.

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