MP to Meet Foreign Office Minister over case of jailed former paratrooper

John Armstrong and sister Joanne Thomlinson in India
John Armstrong and sister Joanne Thomlinson in India

A CUMBRIAN MP is to meet the UK's Foreign Office Minister as part of his effort to get a former paratrooper freed from an Indian jail.

John Armstrong, from Wigton, was working as an armed security guard for an anti-piracy ship in 2013 when his ordeal began.

Despite having all the correct paperwork - issued by the British Government - he was one of 35 men who were arrested on board the Seaman Guard Ohio, and eventually convicted of illegally possessing firearms in Indian waters.

He is now serving a five year jail sentence.

John and his British colleagues who are in jail have become known as the 'Chennai 6. Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart, who travelled to India in 2015 to visit John, has confirmed that he is due to meet Foreign Office Miniser Mark Field to discuss the case and also to speak again to the High Commissioner-designate to India, Dominic Asquith, in a fresh attempt to help John.

He has also again met John's family.

John's sister, Joanne Thomlinson, 32, from Blennerhasset, said John's family appreciated the support Rory Stewart is giving.

She said: "The case has now been ongoing for almost 4 years and Rory has been involved since the beginning so we value his contribution to our ongoing efforts to see John and his colleagues’ release.

"John met with Rory in 2015 when he flew out to India to visit him and I know he appreciates Rory’s engagement and concern with the miscarriage of justice he is facing.

"We hope that a meeting with the Foreign Office Minister will happen soon and we will hopefully see matters progress from there.”

Rory Stewart said he was deeply concerned about John's case.

“The main obstacle continues to be the Indian legal system, which is not like ours," said the MP.

"But there is no question that the British Government has been working very, very hard behind the scenes to do what it can, within its powers and given the sovereignty of the Indian legal system, to get the men home.

“Yet I share everyone's frustration at the sheer length of time that that legal process is taking.

“Meanwhile we need to ensure that we do all that we possibly can to make John and his colleagues as comfortable as possible whilst they are in prison, and to ensure that they remain healthy both mentally and physically."

“John's family know that their campaign to bring him home has my full support. I will continue to champion his cause with both the Indian and British governments."

For more information and to support the Chennai 6 visit

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