Campaign to free Nick returns to Parliament

The family representatives of the Chennai Six, with Lisa Dunn second from left, pictured with minister Mark Field.
The family representatives of the Chennai Six, with Lisa Dunn second from left, pictured with minister Mark Field.

The families of six British seamen, including Nick Dunn from Ashington, stepped up the campaign calling for them to be freed from jail on the fourth anniversary of their arrest.

As well as lobbying MPs in Westminster last Thursday, the group handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street with more than 408,000 signatures demanding the Government do more to secure their release.

Lisa Dunn accompanied Ian Lavery to meet with Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary.

Lisa Dunn accompanied Ian Lavery to meet with Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary.

They spoke with Mark Field, the UK’s minister for Asia, who visited the men in prison earlier this month.

In addition, after talking with Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, Nick’s sister Lisa Dunn accompanied him to meet with Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary.

Nick was among six British sailors – dubbed the Chennai Six – making up a crew of 35 arrested by Indian authorities in October 2013.

The men all worked for the US maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship, MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was detained in Indian waters and weapons found.

They have denied any wrong-doing, saying the weapons were properly licensed.

Lisa said: “Although we appreciated the opportunity to speak with MPs and Mr Field, it was very frustrating to have to come to Parliament yet again to call on the Government to do more.”

“We will keep pushing the issue and as the number of supporters continues to grow, it will hopefully get to the point where the Government will have to act.

“Mr Field said he looked the men in the eyes and told them he would will do everything he can to bring them home, but we were once again told that the UK can’t intervene in other countries’ legal processes.

“We made the point that it should do when these processes are obviously failing like in this case. The appeal hearing ended last November and still no decision has been made.

“However, it was heart-warming to get the support of a number of MPs and meet groups and individuals who came along to support the campaign.

“The messages we’ve received from people in the UK and across the world are very touching and humbling and they help to keep the men going when they feel despondent.”

The charges were quashed in April 2014, but Indian police appealed the decision and the crew was jailed by a judge in January 2016.

Lisa added she is not sure whether to view the judge for the crew’s appeal recently saying he will keep hold of the case after indicating he was going to stand down, citing its complexities, earlier this month as a positive or negative development.

Mr Lavery said: “It is truly shocking that these men continue to languish in shocking conditions in a prison in India.

“I hope this lobby and petition will keep up the pressure on the Government and ensure the media attention remains focused on these men and the hell their families have been through.”