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David Cameron in talks over jailed pilot David Simpson
PRIME Minister David Cameron has stepped into the campaign to free a North Yorkshire pilot jailed after finding massacred bodies in Africa.
David Simpson, 24, from Gillamoor, near Kirkbymoorside, was arrested in the Central African Republic (CAR) two months ago following his discovery of 18 mutilated corpses in remote bushland. He has been behind bars ever since.
The safari firm worker, a former pupil of Ryedale School and Lady Lumley’s, in Pickering, is being held on suspicion of murder in the country’s capital, Bangui, and could face at least six more months of imprisonment as a review of the case is carried out. As his family battle to clear his name, it has emerged Mr Cameron has discussed the matter with Gabon’s president Ali Bongo Ondimba, one of the CAR’s closest allies.
Reports have suggested President Bongo has now sent an envoy to make representations on Mr Simpson’s behalf following the killings, which the charity Human Rights Watch believes were carried out by notorious warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, known to be responsible for a string of atrocities in the area.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The case was raised in the meeting that the Prime Minister and Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham had with President Bongo during his visit to the UK last week.
“The Government is taking this case extremely seriously and has pressed the CAR authorities for assurances that due legal process will be followed. We have asked that this matter will be concluded as swiftly as possible.”
The Press revealed last week how anonymous letters had been sent to Mr Simpson’s family, apparently from animal rights campaigners, saying they hoped he “rots in jail” and would be “hacked to pieces” because of his job as a hunter.
The messages were condemned by members of the Facebook page “David Simpson British pilot imprisoned in Central Africa”, which now has about 3,700 followers.
Mr Simpson’s sister, Helen, said the letters, posted from Sheffield and Lancashire, had been reported to police after they left her mother in tears.
The pilot’s father, Peter, said he had been told his son would be released from prison and placed under house arrest this week, but he was sceptical this would happen.