How my son was failed by the UK dur­ing his time in prison

The Chronicle - - News - By SO­PHIE DOUGHTY Crime Re­porter so­phie.doughty@ncj­me­dia.co.uk @So­phie_Doughty

FREED Nick Dunn could have been spared his Indian jail ordeal if Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials had acted more quickly, his fu­ri­ous father in­sists.

As Jim Dunn awaits his son’s re­turn home to­day he said he felt let down

Nick, 31, and five other for­mer Bri­tish ser­vice­men had been re­leased from prison on bail two years ago af­ter their con­vic­tions for weapons charged were quashed, but were banned from leav­ing the coun­try.

How­ever, they were sent back to prison when a lower court re­in­stated a prose­cu­tion and they were con­victed and sen­tenced to five years.

The men, who have be­come known as the Chen­nai Six, were freed last week af­ter their con­vic­tions were over­turned by a judge. And Nick is due to ar­rive back in the UK to­day.

But his dad be­lieves he would have been saved from go­ing back to jail if the UK Gov­ern­ment had acted to get him out of In­dia dur­ing the 18-month pe­riod he was on bail.

Jim Dunn said: “The For­eign Of­fice could have had them straight out of the coun­try, but they didn’t seem in­ter­ested then. I think they are try­ing to re­deem them­selves now, but if they had acted straight away last time they would have been out two years ago.

Nick, from Ash­ing­ton, was work­ing on the anti-piracy ship MV Sea­man Guard Ohio along with 34 other men in 2013 when the Indian coast­guard boarded the ves­sel and ar­rested them for tak­ing weapons into In­dia’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters.

For­mer sol­dier, Nick, and his col­leagues were locked up for around 18 months. The charges were quashed when the men ar­gued the weapons were law­fully held for anti-piracy pur­poses and their pa­per­work, is­sued by the UK Gov­ern­ment, was in order. The men were then re­leased on bail but were un­able to leave In­dia.

Loved ones of the Chen­nai Six cam­paigned tire­lessly and lob­bied the Gov­ern­ment to get their men re­turned home. But they were locked up again when the charges were re­in­stated.

As Nick was held in a tiny cell at Puzhal Cen­tral Prison in the Chen­nai dis­trict of In­dia, the fight to bring them home in­ten­si­fied.

Jim told the Chron­i­cle that the fam­ily had count­less meet­ings with politi­cians and of­fi­cials. But the 71-year-old be­lieves In­dia sim­ply ig­nored the Bri­tish.

“From what I could see, the Gov­ern­ment haven’t done very much. All they kept say­ing was ‘we are do­ing a lot be­hind the scenes,’ but we don’t know what they were do­ing be­cause they wouldn’t tell us,” he said. “They raised it over 50 times, from the PM down to the tea boy, and noth­ing has been done. It’s just In­dia.” Wans­beck MP Ian Lav­ery has also worked to bring Nick home. Jim added: “Ian Lav­ery has been a bril­liant cam­paigner for Nick and the lads.” For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son has said For­eign Of­fice staff did ev­ery­thing they could. He said: “It is won­der­ful news that the men are re­turn­ing to the UK. The For­eign Of­fice has worked un­stint­ingly on this case, lob­by­ing on the men’s be­half, vis­it­ing them in prison, up­dat­ing their fam­i­lies, and main­tain­ing close con­tact with their le­gal team. I pay trib­ute to those who have cam­paigned for the men, who will be de­lighted to see them re­turn home af­ter be­ing sep­a­rated for so long.”

Jim Dunn, father of Nick Dunn, who was re­cently re­leased from an Indian jail

Nick Dunn dur­ing his army days

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