MP refuses to let Billy become the forgotten man

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Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara raised the plight of Billy Irving, the Argyll man currently held in a notorious Indian jail, on two occasions at Westminster last week.

Ex-paratrooper Billy Irving who, together with five other UK ex-service personnel employed by US company Advanfort to provide protection against Somali pirates, were arrested by the Indian authorities when their ship strayed into their territorial waters.

The ship, carrying arms for which they had legal permits, was seized by the Indian coastguard.

The Mr Irving, who attended Campbeltown Grammar School and the other men have maintained throughout that they are innocent.

Mr O’Hara met with Foreign Office minister Mark Field MP who has a specific remit for Asia and the Pacific, to put further pressure on the government to do more to secure the release of the Billy and the others that have become known as the ‘Chennai 6’, #chennai6.

Mr O’Hara said: ‘This was my seventh meeting in just two years with my third Foreign Office minister to highlight Billy’s case and to keep the pressure on the government urging them to use all of their diplomatic influence to make sure that Billy is returned to his family in Scotland where he belongs.

‘Whilst I do not doubt the sincerity of the UK government in wanting to see the release of Billy and the others of the Chennai 6, I fear that the UK government is no further forward than it was two years ago.’

Mr O’Hara added: ‘This is a very difficult situation for Billy who has missed the first two years of his son’s life for a crime that he did not commit. I will continue to do whatever I can as Billy’s MP to campaign for his release and will continue to work closely with his partner Yvonne to support her in keeping this cause on the political agenda.’

Billy Irving was arrested on  October 18, 2016 and was sentenced to five years in jail along with five other UK nationals.

An appeal has been lodged and is now with the Indian High Commissioner.