Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Ryedale man’s advice for family of jailed pilot David Simpson
12:30pm Wednesday 16th May 2012 in Ryedale news
THE family of a Ryedale pilot held in an African jail has been urged to ‘aim high’ to secure his release.
David Simpson, 24, from Gillamoor, was arrested nearly seven weeks ago after he found 18 male bodies in remote bush in the Central African Republic (CAR).
A former pupil of Ryedale School and Lady Lumley’s in Pickering, David, who works as a pilot and game hunter, was seized by the local military alongside his Swedish-born boss Erik Mararv and nine African colleagues, after he attempted to alert authorities to the bodies.
All 11 have been held in jail without charge or explanation since.
Nicholas Gaunt, whose son Patrick, was blown up in a Basque terrorist bomb blast on Madrid station in 1979, said the Simpson family should aim for the top to secure the help and support they needed.
“What is particularly shaming for us Brits, is that the British authorities seem to have no power to influence the situation and are only concerned in not upsetting the relations within CAR,” he added.
Mr Gaunt, who lives in Helmsley, said that his son was left severely injured in the main hospital in Madrid but the British Embassy staff were just about totally ineffectual in being of any help at all.
“They actually told us that the cost could well be in the order of £20,000 – about £50,000 in today’s money – but that the Spanish were a “kind” race who would understand if we had to mortgage our house to pay for it and would not press for immediate payment,” he added.
Mr Gaunt said that the attitude of the hospital director was sheer horror that the British could assume that we would be presented with a bill at all.
“But that attitude was only arrived at after a conversation between the director and the wife of the CEO of the ICI branch in Madrid who was a star, intelligent, charming and forceful. We were also fortunate enough to have a consultant friend who took a week’s leave from his hospital to come out and help,” he added.
Mr Gaunt said his son had returned home after a month and made a full recovery.
“The lesson learnt I think was that it’s no good relying on the British Embassy, they want a quiet life,” he added.
“I would advise the family to find someone out there on the on the ground with some clout locally – think round corners. There is not a lot that will get done unless you get right to the top.
Mr Gaunt said: “Perhaps in this case, we in Ryedale, are fortunate enough to have the Foreign Secretary, William Haigh who is almost a local, being in the neighbouring constituency and I would have thought he would be delighted to pull something out of the diplomatic bag for his somewhat beleaguered government – aim high, the higher the better.”