Boost for Nick Dunn as PM pledges to raise plight of sailors during India trip
There has been mixed news for Ashington sailor Nick Dunn in his fight for justice.
It is now three years since he and five other Britons were among a crew of 32 arrested for alleged firearms offences in Indian waters. They were later jailed by a court in that country.
They all insisted they were working legitimately to provide properly authorised protection from pirate attacks to other ships.
The verdict of whether Nick and the men would be granted bail or not along with the start of the appeal was scheduled for this week, but it has been delayed.
However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will raise the issue with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a trade mission there next month.
After the case was originally thrown out by an Indian High Court, Nick and his colleagues were sentenced to five years in prison earlier this year.
His family hope that Mrs May’s intervention will put an end to the delays.
Nick’s sister Lisa said: “Hearing that Theresa May will raise Nick’s case with Narendra Modi is very welcome news, especially after yet a further delay.
“It will give Nick and the men a boost they all so desperately need and I am extremely grateful and thankful that she is going to raise the matter.
“However, it has got to the stage now where Mrs May needs assurances from Mr Modi that these unnecessary and agonising delays end immediately and that the bail and appeal hearings are heard and finalised quickly.”
The sailors were accused of carrying unlicensed weapons in Indian waters.
The legal team fighting to get them free said in August that there is strong evidence they have no case to answer as documentation has emerged showing the British Government had issued weapons licences to the men in 2013.
It informed the families last week that a new judge has been appointed to hear the appeal and decide whether or not to grant bail. This meant an adjournment was required.
Lisa said: “Nick telephoned his girlfriend on Friday for the first time in months, as the phones have been broken, and she was able to pass on the update. He seemed understandably low.
“It’s an absolute shambles to the detriment of the men’s mental state of mind. God only knows when the next hearing date is going to be scheduled.
“The sentence revolves around the prosecution saying the weapons are automatic, but the licences from the Government clearly state they are semi-automatic.”