Pocklington soldier still can’t come home

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A Pocklington soldier is still stranded in India despite being acquitted of weapons charges against him and his crew.

Paul Towers, 50, was put in jail along with six other Britons in October last year after weapons were found on board a ship they were travelling in which had entered Indian territorial waters.

The men had been working for US maritime company Advanfort, providing anti-piracy protection when their ship was detained.

According to the men, Indian authorities claim the vessel entered Indian waters illegally with weapons on board, despite Advanfort apparently insisting the ship had the correct papers.

Last month the men were acquitted of the charges, but Indian police still have 90 days in which to appeal that decision and as a result Paul has not been returned his passport and cannot leave India.

The Indian authorities have until 10 October to decide whether to appeal the court verdict, and providing they don’t there are high hopes Paul will be allowed 
to return back to the UK quickly.

East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight, who has been working with the Foreign Office to help get the men home, said: “This is very frustrating for the families concerned but the Indian judicial process must be allowed to take its course.

“The defence lawyers are doing their best and I obviously hope the Indian police will decide not to appeal and will return the men’s passports as soon as possible so that they can return home to their families.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson added: “We are aware of the court decision in the case of the six British nationals in India.

“We continue to offer consular assistance to the individuals concerned and their families.

“We also continue to raise the case at the highest level.”