First of the Chennai Six arrives in UK after release from prison in India

First of the Chennai Six arrives in UK after release from prison in India

Billy Irving arrived at Glasgow airport today (December 6)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The first member of the Chennai Six has arrived back in the UK, more than four years after the group of former British soldiers was jailed in India on weapons charges.

Billy Irving arrived at Glasgow Airport this morning (December 6) and the other five men are expected to arrive in the UK on Thursday (December 7).

He and five other British men had been guards on a ship to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean but they were jailed in October 2013 after being charged with carrying unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

After years of campaigning, they won an appeal against their convictions last week and were given permission to leave India.

Irving has said he wants to send a "massive thankyou" to everyone who has supported the men during their time in India.

He told reporters: "I just want to thank everyone, they've been so kind. Thank you for your support, thank you so much. It feels excellent to be home."

When he arrived the man was met by members of his family with signs saying "welcome home Billy."

Two pipers also played outside the terminal to welcome the 37-year-old, who had cut his hair and beard since the most recent pictures of him in India were published last week.

Boris Johnson has also 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."