WITH VIDEO: Actors, politicians and families lobby for Chennai 6 freedom


Actors and politicians have joined family and friends to protest in London against the imprisonment of a Cumbrian man.

Joanne Thomlinson, Lisa Dunn and Yvonne Machugh joined forces with other campaigners and well-wishers to host a lobby in the House of Commons this morning.

They then travelled to Downing Street to hand over a petition of more than 408,000 signatures.

The families are calling for the Government to step up and take action to free John Armstrong, from Wigton, and five other Britons who are currently in jail in India.

The men - known as the Chennai 6 - are part of a crew of 35 who were all arrested in 2013 on board the Seaman Guard Ohio.

Joanne, 32, from Blennerhasset, has been fighting for her brother John's freedom since his arrest, but the campaign has been more vigorous following the men's conviction in January 2016.

The men were sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of illegally possessing firearms - a charge they vehemently deny.

The campaign has picked up traction in recent months, with television stars including Charlie Lawson and John Bowe both publicly calling for the men's freedom.

The families travelled to London today for the lobby and petition handover, as today marks four years since their arrest.

The petition was formally handed over by John's five-year-old nephew Josh Thomlinson, and fellow Briton Billy Irving's young son William - who has met just a handful of times.

Joanne said it would "mean the absolute world" to get her brother home.

"It's now four years since our loved ones were wrongly incarcerated in India," she said.

"These last four years have been sheer hell for everyone concerned, particularly for the men who were imprisoned while carrying out a vital, legitimate job in anti-piracy.

"We hope that today we can raise the profile of this miscarriage of justice even further, so that we can get the Government to take a more robust stance against this injustice."

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