Hopes that Billy will be set free

Yvonne with Billy and William
Yvonne with Billy and William

The brother of a former UK soldier who has been jailed in India is hopeful that a hearing next week could set him free.

Jamie Irving (40) from Bearsden insists that his younger brother Billy (37) is innocent.

Ex-para Billy was imprisoned for firearms charges in October 2013, along with five other ex-British soldiers and 29 crew members, after their anti-piracy ship - Seaman Guard Ohio - strayed into Indian waters carrying weapons.

A bail application scheduled for Tuesday, September 27 was not heard after a public prosecutor failed to appear in court and is now due to be held on Thursday, October 6.

Theresa May’s government recently said they would take up their case however Jamie doesn’t think they are doing enough.

The government claims that the case has been raised with the Indian government ‘at the highest level’.

However according to recent news reports Theresa May and two of her Cabinet ministers failed to push for their release during recent face to face meetings with India’s leaders.

Theresa May also didn’t raise the jailed men’s plight when she held talks with Indian boss Narendra Modi in China two weeks ago.

Jamie said: “It’s easy to talk but harder to act.

“The government has had ample opportunity to raise this case with Indian authorities but they haven’t bothered.

“They are doing the bare minimum and seem to be scared and reluctant to rock the boat with India.”

“As former veterans they have put their lives on the line several times and now they are being hung out to dry and left to rot in jail.

“It’s really shocking and we all feel very let down.”

Jamie says Billy’s strong character and military training is helping him to cope with the harsh conditions in the jail but other members of the crew are at breaking point.

The master of the vessel has been hospitalised with an illness and another crew member has tried to commit suicide several times.

Jamie says the men are not getting enough food from the prison and they are surviving on food parcels sent to them by friends and family.

Yvonne MacHugh, Billy’s fiancée, said: “We can’t trust the very people who are supposed to help us – this is betrayal of the highest regard. If they had even an inch of humanity they’d put this right and bring them home.”