Chennai Six British soldiers jailed in India for four years ‘home for Christmas’

They were arrested in 2013 while working as guards on a ship to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean. 

Customs guards found 35 guns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the MV Seaman Guard Ohio. Officials said they were not properly declared. 

The so-called Chennai Six denied the charges, which were initially quashed but later reinstated. 

They were sentenced to five years in 2016. 

The men appealed, and yesterday a judge ruled that they be acquitted, along with 29 other crew, at the Madurai Bench of the High Court. 

The men, who are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, were told to apply to get their passports back and be reimbursed a court fine they paid.

The six include Billy Irving, 37, of Argyll and Bute, Nick Dunn, 31, of Ashington, Northumberland, John Armstrong, 30, of Wigton, Cumbria, Nicholas Simpson, 47, of Catterick, North Yorkshire, Ray Tindall, 42, of Chester, and Paul Towers, 54, of Pocklington, East Yorkshire. 

Mr Dunn’s sister Lisa, 37, of Ashington, said: “I am so happy the men are going to be back with their families for Christmas.” 

Billy Irving’s partner Yvonne MacHugh, 29, said: “I am over the moon. He missed the birth of his son. I can’t wait to get him home.” 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “The verdict is fantastic news.”