Yvonne Irving launches petition calling for British citizens to be protected abroad

Billy Irving’s fiancée Yvonne MacHugh and their son William.

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Billy Irving’s wife has helped launch a petition asking for Boris Johnston to ensure citizens are protected abroad.

Yvonne Irving helped found the British Rights Abroad Group (BRAG) and the petition was signed by more than 180,000 people after only two days.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, BRAG wrote: ‘Did you know that the British Government doesn’t have a legal obligation to protect its citizens abroad?

‘We  didn’t either, until we had our loved ones unjustly stripped of their freedom, and we found out there were no guarantees our Government would help.’

It went on to say that more then 2,000  British citizens are currently detained abroad, with more than 1,000 of them being held without a trial.

‘In some countries, such as Germany, there are laws that ensure the Government does everything it can to protect their citizens in cases like ours.

‘A law like this could have been a life saver for our loved ones.’

Former Connel and Campbeltown man, Billy Irving and five other British ex-servicemen were sentenced to five years in an Indian prison in January 2016.

The crew were working as anti-piracy guards on board the Seaman Guard Ohio and were accused of straying into waters with ‘unlicensed weapons’.

After a lengthy legal process, the men were found not guilty and released in November 2017.

Yvonne Irving said: ‘Today we launched a petition calling for Boris Johnson to ensure the rights of British citizens are protected abroad. No innocent British national should have to endure what we went through for almost five years fighting both our own government as well as a flawed legal system in another country.

‘As most of you know Billy, my husband, was wrongfully arrested in India in 2013. When I received that phone call, as worried and scared as I was, I thought he would be okay and home within a few days.’

Yvonne said she wrongly thought that her government would have a legal obligation to step in and help out.

Speaking to The Oban Times, Yvonne added: ‘The reason people should be engaged in the petition and call on the government to pass this new law is because in this day and age most people travel, whether it be for work or to visit family or for a holiday.

‘If you fall into trouble abroad, if you’re innocent or guilty, there is no law to say the British government must defend and protect us. That has to change.’

To sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-mp-boris-johnson-protect-your-citizens-abroad