MORE than 150 supporters of deaf charity worker Ian Stillman gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London to protest about his imprisonment.

Campaigner David Buxton, of Christian Deaf Link, organised the protest which took place yesterday.

Ian, 52, whose parents live in Tadcaster Road, York, is serving a ten-year prison sentence in India after being convicted of cannabis possession - a charge he has always denied.

He was denied a sign language translator during his trial, effectively excluding him from taking any part, and appeal judges have refused to believe he is deaf, despite medical evidence proving it.

The Supreme Court judge shocked deaf campaigners by saying the hearing-impaired are known to be used for drug smuggling in India.

The Evening Press has been campaigning for the release of Ian, who also had a leg amputated following a road accident and is diabetic.

Family, friends of Ian, along with members of deaf organisations, held banners outside the building yesterday calling for his release.

A small delegation led by David Buxton, and including Ian's sister, Elspeth Dougdale, went into the High Commission to put their arguments across for the release of Ian.

Elspeth said she was pleased with how the protest had gone and the number of people that had turned. They had limited the numbers as any more than 150 could have cause a problem for police.

She said: "I think it is always good when you get 150 people prepared to stand in London for a couple of hours - and they are a small per cent of the people that are upset about what has happened."

She said the whole event was peaceful and calm and they had been well received, with the Indian High Commission giving them a sympathetic hearing.

She added: "Whether it will have the effect of speeding up the process I do not know."

Updated: 12:45 Saturday, October 26, 2002