The Herald

Jailed Scot has only seen son twice


THE fiancée of a Scot who spent his fourth Christmas in an Indian jail on gun-running charges has revealed he has only seen his two-year-old son twice.

Billy Irving, 37, originally from Connell, near Oban in Argyll, was arrested with five other British men on a vessel in the Indian Ocean in October 2013. They have been held in what relatives say is a “hell hole” prison.

An appeal, which their lawyer had hoped would be heard before Christmas, is now due to take place next month.

His partner Yvonne MacHugh, from Glasgow, has released new images of Mr Irving with his son, William, who last saw his father in June. She said: “It was only the second time he had seen him. The first time he was only three months old, so this time he was running about saying ‘Daddy!’ Christmas is not a time to be in prison.”

Miss MacHugh said the Foreign Office had “managed to do nothing” and said they “speak a good game” by claiming to be making efforts to have the British men released. Officials said they have raised the case at the highest levels.

Joanne Thomlinson from Wigton, Cumbria, whose brother John Armstrong, 29, an exParatroo­p Regiment soldier, is one of the six jailed, said: “It is incredible to think what impact this has had on so many lives.” MEMBERS of the armed forces redeployed within the UK can now rent out their homes without facing higher costs or having to change their mortgage.

Defence minister Mark Lancaster said it would mean servicemen and women saving time and money “when they are fulfilling vital roles across the country”.

Members of the military who wanted to rent their homes out during deployment used to have to change their residentia­l mortgage to a buy-to-let one, often being hit with new charges and an increased rate of interest.

However, the new agreement under the Government’s armed forces covenant means they can now go ahead and rent their homes out without these complicati­ons. Mr Lancaster said: “Our armed forces keep us safe and rightly we should be making sure they’re fully supported.

“This extension means our brave men and women will save time and money when they are fulfilling vital roles across the country, and is another example of how the covenant is making a real difference.”

This commitment from the majority of the UK’s high street banks and building societies follows a similar deal for personnel posted abroad, which was agreed in January.

The initiative is supported by 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies, including Barclays, HSBC and Nationwide.

The changes are set to benefit almost 265,000 people in the UK and overseas.

British Bankers’ Associatio­n chief executive Anthony Browne said: “Members of our armed forces work all over the world to look after us, so it’s only right that we look after them.”

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