THE UK Government has been urged to help a group of former soldiers - including one from Pocklington - who have been jailed in India over their involvement in an anti-piracy scheme.

Paul Towers, from Pocklington, understood to be married to Ann and a former member of the Parachute Regiment, is among six men imprisoned in squalid conditions.

Relatives have delivered a petition signed by 100,000 people to Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to intervene. The presentation coincided with a bail hearing for the group.

The men were working for US maritime company Advanfort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship was detained last October and they were arrested.

The Indian authorities are said to have claimed that their vessel entered Indian waters illegally with weapons on board, despite Advanfort insisting the ship had the correct papers. The men have been granted bail but have not yet been released. Supporters claim they have lost weight, look exhausted and have lost hope of ever being released.

The supporters said that with very little communication from lawyers and the company, the men had no idea what was going on with their case but if the UK Government gave them surety, they would be released and allowed home.

The Foreign Office had said that the “difficult and important” case had been raised by the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary with Indian ministers, and the Government would continue to do all that it could.