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