Chennai Six – including former soldier from Catterick Garrison – released from Indian prison

The Chennai Six. Top row from left to right: Ray Tindall, Nick Dunn, Nick Simpson. Bottom row: John Armstrong, Billy Irving, Paul Towers.

A former British soldier from Catterick Garrison working as part of a private security team protecting ships from piracy have been released from prison in India after serving four years for possessing weapons.

Nicholas Simspon, along with other members of the so-called Chennai Six, who had all previously served in either the Parachute or Yorkshire Regiments, were acquitted today and told by a judge to apply to get their passports returned, ending a long wait for them and their families in the UK.

Mr Simson, 47, Billy Irving, 37, Nick Dunn, 31, John Armstrong, 30, Ray Tindall, 42, and Paul Towers, 54, were among 35 imprisoned in October 2013 while working as security on commercial ships to protect against pirates in the Indian Ocean.

They were jailed in 2013 along with 14 Estonian, 12 Indian and three Ukrainian colleagues when their vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was boarded by the Indian Navy for entering its waters without permission.

All the men worked for AdvanFort, a maritime security company.

Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, said he welcomed the appeal court decision and the prospect that his constituent could soon be home.

He said: “It has been extraordinarily difficult time for his wife Tracy and their two sons. I have met and Tracy made representations on her behalf in the House and to Foreign Office Ministers about Nicholas’ case.

“We all look forward to Nicholas being home very soon.”