Indian court grants bail to former British soldiers on anti-piracy protection ship

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Five former British soldiers jailed in India, including one from Pocklington, have been granted bail, the maritime charity helping them has said.

The men are among 33 of 35 crewmen from the ship the Seaman Guard Ohio who were detained in India in October.

Paul Towers, from Pocklington; Billy Irving, from Connel, Scotland; Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland; Ray Tindall from Chester; John Armstrong from Wigton, Cumbria, and Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick, North Yorkshire, were working for US private maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship was detained.

They were arrested on suspicion of illegal possession of guns and ammunition on 12 October and have been in prison in India since 24 October.

Yesterday maritime welfare charity The Mission to Seafarers said five of the men have been granted bail and could be released as early as Friday, but one member of the group has not.

Their supporters last week handed a petition with 150,000 signatures to Downing Street.

The Mission to Seafarers said: “Following news from the court in Chennai, The Mission to Seafarers is able to confirm that the judge has agreed in principle to the release on bail of 33 of the 35 crewmen who are currently in prison, pending further confirmation from the Indian lawyers that the 33 will be able to meet the conditions of the bail agreement.

“These are likely to include a bail fee for each man being properly secured and lodged in India, and for evidence to be put forward that the men will have satisfactory accommodation locally during the period when they are on bail awaiting trial.”