Petition marks plight of Pock man held in India

Paul Towers has been held in India for more than 1,000 days.
Paul Towers has been held in India for more than 1,000 days.

A petition signed more than 350,000 people has been handed in to Downing Street to show the plight of six British ex-soldiers held in India for more than 1,000 days.

Paul Towers, from Pocklington, along with two ex-servicement from Yorkshire, Ray Tindall and Nicholas Simpson, expected to be home in January after weapons charges against them were dropped.

Instead they are detained in “squalid conditions” in one of the largest prisons in India, Puzhal Prison, after being sentenced to five years of “rigorous imprisonment”.

The Mission to Seafarers and families of the British guards of the anti-piracy vessel - the MV Seaman Guard Ohio - held a parliamentary lobby and rally at Westminster on Thursday July 7.

Despite David Cameron writing to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ministers raising the case more than 20 times, the UK authorities say their hands are tied. The families are calling for MPs to unite to support the men. Ten MPs have joined the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Chennai Six including MP for East Riding, Sir Greg Knight.

Mary Taylor, cousin of Paul Towers, said: “We have had so many knockbacks, but this meeting today has left us all feeling quite positive. We were told to take it softly, softly but that doesn’t seem to have worked and the MPs are now saying to take it up a notch and start to make a noise.”

She said they were sending food parcels to Mr Towers, a former paratrooper, who served in the Army for nearly 20 years. Another appeal is pending, she said, adding: “We are always hopeful that someone will see sense along the way.”