Sunday 18 February 2018

UK denies aid cash paid for hostages' release

Freed hostages Paul and Rachel Chandler yesterday described their "traumatic" kidnap ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates as the British government denied aid money was used to secure their release.

The Chandlers, freed following more than a year in captivity, revealed they were beaten by their captors after refusing to be separated. The retired couple from Kent are poised to return to the UK after a ransom was reportedly paid to secure their release.

Reports suggested the money came from a mixture of private investors and the Somali government.

The British government moved to quash reports that part of the release money had come out of British aid paid to the African country's government.

A spokeswoman for the Department for International Development (DfID) said: "No part of the UK aid budget has been used to help secure the Chandlers' release.

"The British government does not pay ransoms to hostage takers."

The Chandler family released a statement acknowledging the "inevitable questions" that would arise following the release.

News of the couple's freedom following the 388-day ordeal prompted joyous scenes. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who spoke to Mr Chandler yesterday, declared their release "tremendous news".

The couple were snatched during a round-the-world sailing trip when their 38-foot yacht, the 'Lynn Rival', was stormed by armed men.

Mr Chandler said: "We're fine. We are rather skinny and bony but we're fine."

Irish Independent

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