'Chennai Six' begin journey back to Britain

Updated: 

Six former British soldiers have started their return to the UK, more than four years after they were jailed in India on weapons charges.

The so-called Chennai Six, who had been guards on a ship to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean, won an appeal against their convictions last week.

They were jailed in October 2013 after being charged with smuggling weapons and ammunition, but have now been given permission to leave India.

Billy Irving, from Argyll and Bute, is expected to be the first of the six men to return home on Wednesday.

The others - Nick Dunn, John Armstrong, Nicholas Simpson, Ray Tindall and Paul Towers - are expected to arrive in the UK on Thursday.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: "It is wonderful news that the men are returning to the UK.

"The Foreign Office has worked unstintingly on this case, lobbying on the men's behalf, visiting them in prison, updating their families, and maintaining close contact with their legal team.

"I pay tribute to those who have campaigned for the men, who will be delighted to see them return home after being separated for so long."

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