Billy Irv­ing’s fam­ily lob­bies par­lia­ment

Campbeltown Courier - - NEWS - Sandy Neil and Han­nah O’Han­lon ed­i­tor@camp­bel­town­

THE FAM­ILY of a Camp­bel­town pi­rate hunter locked up in a ‘hell-hole’ In­dian prison learned min­utes be­fore step­ping into a par­lia­men­tary lobby that his ap­peal judge, who had pre­vi­ously stepped down declar­ing the case ‘too com­pli­cated’, has taken it on again.

The fam­ily also took a 400,000-strong pe­ti­tion to 10 Down­ing Street last Thurs­day, four years to the day since ex-Gram­mar school pupil Billy Irv­ing was de­tained along­side five other Bri­tish ex-ser­vice­men.

The men, known as the Chen­nai Six, were work­ing as armed guards on­board the MV Sea­man Guard Ohio when their ship strayed into In­dian wa­ters.

They were ac­cused of car­ry­ing il­le­gal arms and ar­rested by In­dian au­thor­i­ties in Oc­to­ber 2013 and sen­tenced to five years in Jan­uary 2016, but con­tinue to deny the charges.

Billy’s fi­ancée, Yvonne MacHugh, told the Courier: ‘We don’t re­ally know if it’s good news or bad [that the judge has taken on the case again] as ob­vi­ously he’s al­ready said he’s in­com­pe­tent of pass­ing a judge­ment but within a cou­ple of days he has de­cided he can.

‘As it stands, we don’t re­ally know what’s hap­pen­ing.’

Speak­ing in the lobby, Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara said: ‘The sit­u­a­tion Billy and his ship­mates find them­selves in is ab­so­lutely in­tol­er­a­ble.

‘The ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings have de­scended into com­plete farce, with judges re­sign­ing from the case one week only to reap­point them­selves the next.’

Mr O’Hara paid trib­ute to the work of the fam­i­lies, par­tic­u­larly the cam­paign­ing car­ried out by Yvonne, who vis­ited Down­ing Street with the cou­ple’s son Wil­liam, Billy’s par­ents Jim and Mar­garet, his brother Colin and Yvonne’s sis­ter Jac­qui to hand in the pe­ti­tion call­ing for the men’s re­lease.

Yvonne said: ‘De­spite all the emo­tion, stress, anx­i­ety and lack of sleep, we did the Chen­nai Six proud.

‘We woke up know­ing more peo­ple now know our story, they know of this in­jus­tice and they now want to do some­thing about it. To­gether we will get them home.

‘Now let’s be­gin the cam­paign to bring them home for Christ­mas.’

The Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment says it has raised the is­sue with In­dia 50 times, but the fam­i­lies want more ac­tion.

Left to right, Billy Irv­ing’s brother Colin and fa­ther Jim, Bren­dan O’Hara MP, Billy’s son Wil­liam and fi­ancée Yvonne MacHugh, and Yvonne’s sis­ter Jac­qui hand in the pe­ti­tion.

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