THE PARENTS of jailed deaf charity campaigner Ian Stillman are to hold a question-and-answer session for York residents who helped free him.

Roy and Monica Stillman, who live in Tadcaster Road, York, will speak at St Edward the Confessor church, in Dringhouses, to people who put pressure on the authorities to release their son. The event will be chaired by the vicar, the Rev Martin Baldock.

More than 5,000 York residents signed an Evening Press petition demanding that Ian, a father-of-two, be freed. He was serving a ten-year jail sentence in India after being convicted of cannabis possession - a charge he always denied.

He arrived in England just before Christmas after the Indian Government relented to huge pressure.

Roy said: "I think it's going to be some sort of cross between Desert Island Discs and Parkinson.

"We'll be talking about everything to do with the past year, about Ian's trial and imprisonment and his release, and basically getting everybody up to date."

Ian, who has one leg and suffers from diabetes, was eventually released on health grounds.

His supporters had protested that he had been denied his human rights because he had not been given a sign language translator at his arrest and trial, effectively excluding him from taking any part.

Ian, his Indian wife, Sue, and daughter Anita, are now renting a house close to his sister's family in Romsey, Hampshire.

Sue is intending to return to India next month to run the charity the pair set up, which has so far taught independence skills to more than 1,000 young deaf Indians.

"It is very much Ian's wish that Sue goes back to continue the work," said Roy.

"It has been agreed verbally that he can go back to India for one month to wind up affairs, but of course he has bigger ideas than that. Anyway, at the moment he is not fit enough to even consider that."

Ian is concentrating on his health, which includes receiving counselling for the effects of being virtually in isolation for the past year.

But his father said: "The exhilaration of being free has certainly not left him."

The talk will be held on March 10 between 7.30pm and 9pm.

Updated: 08:20 Wednesday, February 26, 2003