Nov. 24, 2021

Nick Dunn, British citizen and former British Army soldier previously held in India, Part 1 | Pod Hostage Diplomacy

Nick Dunn, British citizen and former British Army soldier previously held in India, Part 1 | Pod Hostage Diplomacy

Nick Dunn is a British citizen and a former British Army Parachute Regiment soldier. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq. After leaving Her Majesty’s Forces, he continued to work in security. In October 2013, Nick worked as an armed security guard aboard his company vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio. He was one of six British former Army soldiers on the vessel. Their mission was to protect the vessel from Somali pirates. A week later, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio was brought into port in Tamil Nadu by the Indian coast guard. 10 crew members and 25 guards including Nick and the other Brits were arrested and placed in prison in Chennai. They were then wrongfully detained in India for the next 4 years. Nick and the other 5 Brits were collectively known as the Chennai 6.

On this week’s episode, we speak to Nick Dunn himself. Nick walks us through his arrest, the false charges, being held in prison, what life in prison was like, being granted bail and thinking he was just 2 days away from coming back home to the UK only to be heartbroken when Nick and the rest of the Chennai 6 were then sentenced to another 5 years in prison.

If you prefer, you can watch the video version of this interview on YouTube.

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Nick Dunn, British citizen and former British Army soldier previously held in India, Part 1 | Pod Hostage Diplomacy  


Daren Nair, Nick Dunn


[(0:00)] Daren Nair: 

Welcome to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. We work to free hostages and the unjustly detained around the world. Together with their families, we share their stories every week and let you know how you can help bring them home. I'm Daren Nair and I've had the honour of campaigning with many of these families for years. These are some of the most courageous and resilient people among us. People who have never given up hope. People who will never stop working to reunite their families. We will be right there by their side until their loved ones are back home. Thank you for joining us. Now let's meet this week's guest.
 Welcome to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. Nick Dunn is a British citizen and a former member of the Parachute Regiment within the British Army. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq. After leaving Her Majesty's Forces, Nick continued to work in security. In October 2013, Nick worked as an armed security guard onboard his company vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio. His mission was to protect the vessel from Somali pirates. Nick was not the only British citizen on the ship working as an armed security guard. There were another five Brits who were also former British Armed Forces with him.
 A week later, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio was brought into port in Tamil Nadu by the Indian Coast Guard. 10 crew members and 25 guards, including Nick and the other five Brits, were arrested and placed in prison in Chennai, which is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. From then onwards, Nick and these five Brits would be known as the Chennai Six. They were accused of being illegally armed in Indian waters. This was not true. They had all the required documentation [(2:00)] and they had a legitimate reason to be in Indian waters, which is they needed to pick up emergency supplies as a result of stormy weather. They were granted bail five months later in March 2014, thanks to a petition signed by 136,000 people that was submitted to the British government. In January 2016, however, they were found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.
 Almost two years later in November 2017, a Chennai appeals court dismissed the case and they were free to return home to the UK. So Nick Dunn and the rest of the Chennai Six, who were innocent, were only able to come home to their families four years after their arrest and wrongful imprisonment in India. Now, Nick has written a book about his experience called ‘Surviving Hell’. Today, we have the honour of speaking to Nick Dunn himself. Nick, first of all, thank you for your service in Her Majesty's forces. We are sorry for what you had to go to in India. Thank you for joining us.
 Nick Dunn: 

No problem. Good evening. Thank you for having me on your podcast.
 Daren Nair: 

Could you walk us through what happened?
 Nick Dunn: 

Well, I was doing armed security on the ships, anti-piracy role. Back in October 2013, I was on a client vessel going to Sri Lanka. We were told by our company to get off that vessel and board our company vessel, MV Seamen Guard Ohio. We ceased operations and we obviously needed fuel and provisions. So, everyone who deals in that gets that sorted. We had to seek shelter, which under maritime law, you can to a friendly neighbouring country. [(4:00)] India was that neighbouring country but things took a turn for the worst. We started taking fuel on the evening of the 12th of October. The next morning, we were kind of rudely awakened by our tactical deployment officer, who is the guy that's in charge of the guards who issues the kitting equipment before going and coming from a merchant vessel. He told us we had been boarded by the Indian Coast Guard at gunpoint. We were told that we had to make our way to the port of Tuticorin. 
 We were kind of left in the dark and we weren't known why we had been apprehended. They wouldn't say anything, just get to port. I came on deck side and I was like, "Why are we going so slow?" Well, I have no idea. The reason why we're going on so slow is that they had to make a spectacle out of things. They had to have personnel in place, media, and whatnot. We found out that once entering the port, it was a welcome committee. You're thinking, "Hmm," later down the line, they said they found us up to no good. I was thinking, "Well, if you found that we were up to no good, how have you gotten so many [(6:00)] people port side from different organisations around India?" Some of these organisations came as far as Mumbai. 
 Unless they've got a very fast private jet. How did they get there in that time? I believe, and I'm pretty damn sure of us feeling the same way. It was a seizure exercise. We were sold down the river. We were made an example of because if you see something suspicious on your radar, you send the coast guard out to go and see what the problem is. They've been told something to which has alerted a lot of different organisations in India to which they got there in good time. So they knew where we were. They were waiting for certain people to turn up in Tuticorin before coming to apprehend us. We were in anchor. We were taking fuel and provisions. We were doing nothing wrong. Yes, we were in Indian waters but under maritime law, you can be in their waters, especially when you're seeking shelter from a cyclone. We weren't entering the port so we don't have to tell them we were coming to port, but we were in their waters. 
 We've never denied the fact that we weren't but when they turn around and say, we have illegal weapons, there was 35 personnel on that vessel and those 35 weapons. They basically put two and two together and come up with 10. The only weapons that they said were illegal were the [(8:00)] five G3s, which, funny enough were ticked off, signed off paperwork provided by the UK government. Yet the Indian government turned around and said they don't hold any value or clearance outside of UK waters. We're like, no, that doesn't work like that. They're used for maritime operations, solely for maritime operations. So basically we were, pardon my French, in the shit before we even knew it because it didn't matter what we did, they wouldn't bat an eyelid.
 They didn't care. They knew what they were doing. It was to make an example. At the time, we weren't aware of this. We were just told to keep out of the way, and just, if you get called, come and speak to the police officers. When we were in port, it was manic. We had to formulate, it's a bit of security on the bridge, on the gangway because everyone was just piling on. We're like, who are these people? Where's your ID? That kind of upset them. I'm thinking, well, hang on a minute. If you start letting so many people on this vessel, you're going capsize. Who are these people? We're not letting random people. We need to know who you are. So it kind of upset them, like rub them up the wrong way. 
 I'm thinking, well, you're in a white shirt. No identification, but you're saying, you're police. Show me, prove it. [(10:00)] We are different organisations like I say, far as Mumbai. Every organization was handling Seaman's book. Were passports at the time. Just certain people would get asked the odd question, stupid questions. Non-related to the incident questions. Like one of the Estonians was asked. So you've been to Afghanistan, have you lost anyone? He was like, who the hell do you think you are, asking me this question? The captain didn't play the game. He locked himself in his cabin. That infuriated the police. We still have had the outcome if he complied. Yes, 100%. With him infuriating the police, it did kind of make matters a bit worst because unfortunately, they don't like the piss taken out of them. 
 He was quite frankly doing that. He should have just complied because if you start screaming and shouting and not complying, the police are gonna suspect you are hiding something. If you comply, it's down to them to prove your wrongdoing. So from the off, it was a nightmare. We showed them the weapons, the paperwork, and the ammunition for all these different organisations. They were going well, there's nothing to be had here, and they left. I think the local boys Q Branch were getting a bit pissed off. Though thinking, hang on a minute, something's not right here. We're gonna look like a bunch of idiots here. So it got to their turn. They turned around and went, we found weapons. [(12:00)] They got their media and made a massive mountain out of a molehill. 
 A couple of days later, they removed the weapons. Then on the morning of the 18th of October, 2013, pretty early. So back in the UK at that time were four and a half hours behind. People were asleep. My family was asleep. Now I've already spoken to my family, telling them what's going on. I've had my family, especially my dad question my job. He questioned, what I'm actually doing because they'd started writing stuff online. My family has read this. The Estonian families have read this. They are saying we are up to no good. That we were selling weapons to fishermen, and we're doing a Mumbai-style attack on the nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu. All these stories were coming out online. It's not very nice when you're 5,000 miles away, not knowing your next move. You've got your dad on the phone saying, right, I'm reading this. 
 I want to know the truth. Are you up to no good? Are you doing protection work? I said I'm doing protection work. He went, right, I believe you. Time went on and I got to that morning. They said, right, you're going to the hospital for a checkup. We're like, why are we going to the hospital for there's nothing wrong with us? We complied. They're not stupid but they are cunning. They're doing it in devious. They make a game out of things. To the outside, they look [(14:00)] daft, but really they know what they're doing. They're not stupid. They had us by the balls, but they didn't because they just made everything up. They just wanted to ruin our lives. Make an example of, because two Italian Marines kill two Indian fishermen and they couldn't punish them. 
 That is it. Simple bottom lane. Should it have happened? Damn right, it shouldn't. It didn't have to happen, but it did. This was the start of a four-year nightmare. I don't really class these days from the 12th to the 18th. I don't because that can happen anyway. Basically, we thought, well here we go. They'll probably want a bit of a bribe to let us go. I've heard many stories where your passport's a little bit free and they'll go, oh, something's not right with that. They know the money you make. They just want a bit of involvement in it. Normally in other countries around the world, money talks. If you want freedom, make sure you've got a lot of cash on you because freedom comes at a price. 

 The worst thing was making that phone call. We're not stupid. We know we're getting arrested. However, they went, you're going to the hospital, but you can't take your wallet. You can't take your watch. You can't take your phone. People who had reading glasses, couldn't take their reading glasses, yet there was paper in front of them saying, "sign this". Well, I can't bloody read. You took my glasses off us. We can't take a belt. We can't take cigarettes, for those who smoke. Do you think what kind of hospital is that? So we're not stupid. We're all professional. We put back our company uniform on [(16:00)] because we're representing the company. We're wanting to show the media, and the world that this is gonna happen. That we are not guilty people. We've done no wrongdoing. We're showing that we're representing our company, showing that we're professional. 
 It was manic. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do, I wouldn't say one of the hardest, it's probably one of the things that I wish I never had to do because that's the only memory I've got in regards to my mom. I tried to ring my sister and with the time difference, she never answered in time. So I rang my mom. My mom's tablets didn't kick in. So she was kind of still awake, but groggy. I said to my mom, it’s gone tits up, we're getting arrested. I don't know when I would see you or speak to you again but I love you and I'll see you soon. That's the last time I've ever heard my mom speak properly. Five days before Christmas 2013 she suffer a double aneurysm when I was in prison. It massively affected her speech. So like I've got no videos of her speaking.
 The only memory I've got is our phone call. It eats away at me every day. Yes. One day it will ease a bit, but it's still raw now. It still hurts. Then my sister kind of rung us back. I went right, get the embassy. Shits going down now. I love you. [(18:00)] Speak to you soon. That was it. The nightmare begins. How long it was gonna take, we don't know. We got cordoned off on the buses, media everywhere, hanging out the vans, trying to get pictures. Sirens going, you'll name it. This was big for the Indians, especially in Tuticorin. So in India and Tamil Nadu, this was big news. This is boom. We went to the police station. We had no agent from the company. We had no embassy staff. We had no interpreter.
 One of the crew was from Tamil Nadu. In a way, he's acting as a suspected terrorist gun runner criminal, but acting as our interpreter at the same time. He's getting grilled by the police. So he was in a very difficult position. I felt sorry for him. They’re just shouting at him, sign this or we’ll ruin your lives. I'm thinking it's a blank piece of paper. I'm not signing nothing. Put in a tiny little room, probably a bottle of water, no food, nothing. This was from like eight o'clock in the morning, as far as I recall. It went on, all the way through. All day, no food, just water. They did bring a pack of cigarettes to give to the ones who smoked. It was hot, stifling, anxious, you’re scared in a way. You got foreign personnel [(20:00)] screaming and shouting in their mother tongue. You haven't got a clue what they're saying. 
 So you're just trying to remain calm as best as you can. I wasn't thinking of my family at the time. I was thinking of there and now because that's what I had to do. My family will have to deal with what's going on when they decide to deal with it. I had bigger things on my plate. I had to know what on earth was going down. Nothing, no one to represent us. It was disgusting. We found out apparently that the company representative turned up, but he got a bit of a hot collar and he disappeared. 
 Apparently, we were told that the embassy got refused entry to see us. If that was true, that's a diplomatic incident. No one should be rejected to see your consular staff. Definitely not. Especially when they can act as interpreters as well. That's what the British government does with their embassy staff. They hire the local people to act as relations, which is a good idea. Isn't it? We got carted from the police station to a court. It was nighttime. Some guy turned out because the court was closed. We had to go around the back. The guy in a suit came out and waffled something. We got back on the bus. Then that was us off to prison. The first prison we went to that was built during British rule. 
 So you can imagine how daunting it looks from the outside, [(22:00)] some prison that was built in 1800. Once the prison staff found out, there were six British. They were more or less doing cartwheels. So like shoes on the other foot now. I was just thinking, is this a nightmare? What on earth is going on here? Still with the ink and the thumbprint with a big book, a massive big book like that. Like you’re getting nicked, you are in prison. Here’s your dog bowl. Here’s your spoon. Here’s your two sheets, crack on. We all got chucked in this little outhouse room thing with a hole in the floor as a toilet and like a big thing where you could fill your buckets up with water and have a bucket wash. 
 So you would stand in the open square and just chuck buckets of water. That was your way to try and have a wash. Well, I had a wash because we're being sweaty in the police station all day. We were dehydrated hanging out. They gave a little bit of food. They gave onion, omelet, chapatis, and not very well-cooked jacket potatoes. They were still hard and raw inside. It was after 11 o'clock at night when we got to the prison. So all day of not knowing what's going on when I've been thrown in this prison. Once that door shut, you were just thinking, is this it? Is this where I'm gonna stay for however long? Sorry for swearing, but what the fuck? How do you digest that? [(24:00)] You are an innocent man. You know, you've done nothing wrong. You're halfway across the world and you're put in a prison. 
 How do you comprehend that? What goes through your head? Well, what went through my head is, right, let's try and keep my head on my shoulders and not think of home too much. Go back to my military training. That helped immensely. What you learn when you go for your training, battalion life, and going on operations. It does mentally toughen you up. It's more physical, but it does mentally tough you up. I needed that. I really did for the years to come. This was the beginning. This wasn't hard. The tough times are on their way. You weren't aware. At the time, you didn't know. We're there for a couple of days. Then we got told the 23 foreigners are going to Chennai. We were like, why isn't all 35 going up? 
 We don't know. They kept the Indians down in that prison, in that compound. We went up to Chennai. Puzhal Central Prison 2, a remand prison. We got there at nighttime. It was daunting again, these big gates. You're thinking, oh my God, what was going on? In that prison, from the main entrance, it was nearly a mile walk to our compound where they put foreign nationals. So we were all chucked in [(26:00)] cells. I shared a little, I think it was like a 10 by eight small cell with a hole in the floor toilet. I shared that with three other guys. Two Brits, and one Estonian. I shared that from October to April when we got released for bail. It was tough. Conditions were excruciating at times. The heat, the mosquitos, there was the odd dodgy spider. There were snakes that the Indians killed. Chucked on a fire then ate. These spiders and snakes, if they bit you, you're dead. You even got no chance of getting out of that prison alive. Unless you've got a very good immune system and you fight back.
 One of the Estonians, he had something wrong with his gut. It's very painful. He was screaming and shouting. Well, what's going on? One of the prison guards came. He was like, what's the matter? He needs a doctor, moaning. You're like, no, this man could die. He had stomach ulcers. He finally got checked out and said, oh, by the way, you got stomach ulcers, mate. Good thing it didn't pop because that could be very life-threatening. In the first prison thankfully we were only there for a couple of days, thank the Lord because we probably would've been carted out of that. In very poor health, we managed to walk out of the second prison.
 I like to go to the gym. I was a pretty decent size. When I came out of that prison, we [(28:00)] barely ate, were lucky to eat a meal. Sometimes the vegetables were rotten. They'd been attacked by rats. Probably pissed on by cats. They were just laid on the floor. There were cats everywhere in this prison and you have mouths to feed. They had given us this kind of ration. You're like, I'm lucky if I can feed three people with this. I've got 23 mouths to feed. In the first place, we all cooked. We made little cooking teams. Every day we do go to the kitchen, get hot water and make food. 
 So we did that. We're not like Gordon Ramsay. I'm sure we probably gave each other food poisoning once or twice. Everyone's got different eating habits, like what they like to eat. For the food that we got, the stew was the main easy option. Everyone likes a good stew, especially in winter. More so broth. That's what it kind of was. At that time it was very bland because we didn't have condiments. So it was tough, but you've got to eat it. Don’t twist your nose because you need to stay healthy and our health is deteriorating. I remember one time we all went down with this bug and it spread like wildfire. I remember lying on this thin mattress that the embassy brought in just to act as a bit of comfort instead of lying on the floor, but with the heater kind of shrinks for some reason. 
 I was just lying there. I was in absolute turmoil. My guts [(30:00)] were in a shit state. I felt ill. I felt weak. I was like, I'm gonna die here. We had in the compound outside toilets that we used during the day till six o'clock when we got locked up, Then we'd use the cell toilet, which was quite pleasant. Needs most, I suppose. We're all big boys. We all have loose motion with the heat and the food that we eat. As you can imagine, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out. I needed to use the toilet. So I'm lying on this mattress and I kind of get up, I was like, oh. I only get halfway. So I come out, down the corridor door. Out the main, into the courtyard kind of thing, where the toilet is. I got halfway and I just went "Bleh". I just puked up and then shat myself to be polite. 
 I stood there and I'm laughing, but I'm crying at the same time. I'm like, I want my mom. I want my mom, I'm gonna die here. Do you know what I mean? I can laugh about that now, but at the time it was serious. It was like, we're gonna die here. It was awful. In that prison, we met some characters. There were Nigerians, Syrians, the odd Russian. There was some Chinese guy with a Redwood and all that dodgy money and stuff like that. Tamil Tigers. There were a few different people. We didn't really get to mix with the local nationals then. They were kind of just hurling us abuse. So when we had to go to get [(32:00)] our vegetables and go to the kitchen, that was like, another mile. You pass and you walk up the main drag, you're passing all the compounds and all the Indians are out and about. They're just hurling abuse. 
 You don't need a translator to work out that. It's verbal abuse, just by the tone. Obviously, you get to learn certain words, which we spoke to a few English-speaking Tamils. They kind of translated it, when you're getting nasty words said about you. One of the guys had a brick chucked at the back of his head. Luckily, he wasn't too badly injured. It did happen on an everyday occurrence, but just, I think once they realised, not to do it. We had to put a complaint by the embassy. This is very dangerous. We are in a dangerous prison here. 
 You'll hear about the sharpening of a toothbrush and putting the razor blade in, you'll hear. Especially in one incident, when we were going to the kitchen. One of the Indians had his throat slit. There was blood going all over. He was screaming. Where were the guards? Nowhere to be seen. He's just a number to them. They're not interested. There was a big riot, drugs. Big riot. Everyone was in lockdown. So we couldn't even go anywhere apart from going to the kitchen for food. We had to be kind of escorted as far as I remember. It was tough in that five and a half, six months. It was tough. It was an experience. [(34:00)] It was horrible. Especially when the embassy came in and gave me a letter and told us about my mom having a double aneurysm five days before Christmas.
 That was a very hard, hard point in my life. I had to walk a mile back to that jailer's office. I was walking back, just holding this letter, blurry-eyed, battling the red mist, walking with tunnel vision. I could hear people screaming and being abused. I could feel the odd stone hit my body, but the pain that I was going through was 10 times more than what they could ever inflict on me. I got back to the compound and I saw one of the other Brit guys. I just broke down. I said I can't do this. This is what happened to my mom. He took me away comfort us and get it off my chest. As I say, real men cry. Real men got emotions. My emotions have come out in the worst-case scenario. I am my mom's baby and she may die. Do you think they will allow me to go to the funeral? Definitely not. If they didn't, I would've kicked off big time. Gladly, I'm very fortunate that never happened.
 Yes, that was like, the first start of the nightmare of being in that prison. Yes, we got released on bail. I don't know if that was a worse period. It wasn't bad. I was able to socialise, go to the gym, nights out, rest. I wasn't living it up because it was costing my family money. After all, I'm not getting paid. The company stopped paying me even [(36:00)] though they said to the families they would pay me. You know, things aren't cheap. If I wanted to live like an Indian, yes, but I can't eat rice and dhal, 24/7. I can't. I had enough of that for five months nearly. I'm certain I'm not gonna eat it when I can get a McDonald's or a Pizza Hut, or just an actual meal from a restaurant. I did like a biryani on a Sunday like. I don't mind a biryani, I like a chicken and rice. A great fundamental meal for a gym guy.
 Yes, being out you know, you still had the case happening. Going to the court, getting moved, getting delayed, court closures. You're like, oh, my god. What's going on? Speaking with the embassy, yes I was able to Skype my family which was fantastic. It was annoying, especially with the time difference, 4 1/2 to 5 hours, and the different times of the year. I'm out of prison and I'm living in an Indian hostel. It's costing my family. It was a massive financial burden. Well, what's going on? What's the British government doing? Why can't I get home? Why? I'm out on bail and then a couple of months later, the case gets quashed. I do not have any charges against me. I am literally, technically a free man but I wasn't to be.
 Absolute madness. I was denied my freedom. Do I believe the British government could have done more [(38:00)] at that time? Damn, right. Of course, they could, especially when it's stated in Indian law, during the 90-day rule. I do not need to remain in India. However, do you think Tamil Nadu would sign off to allow me to go back to the UK? No, they wouldn't even listen to what New Delhi tells them to do. That's the problem with India. It's too state-run. Every state has a chief minister. They’re supposed to be looking after the state for the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. They don't, unless their BJP which is the Prime Minister’s party then they're all right. Other parties like in Tamil Nadu, they ain't gonna listen. Absolutely not going to listen at all. New Delhi could have turned around and said let them free, they have done nothing wrong and we’ve seen the paperwork from the British government.
 They'll just go, "No". Mad, absolutely mad. I've done a few podcasts. I've had people say "Nick, are you exaggerating anything?". I won't, no. I don't need to exaggerate anything. I tell it how it is. I tell it in a passionate way from the bottom of my heart. I've got no qualms, no way of needing to lie to exaggerate things. It's a nightmare. This was an ongoing nightmare where you know getting frustrated. Squabbles amongst us with the government. We're all hurting and we're all missing our families. We're all financially [(40:00)] hit. We're all innocent but to those we’re guilty, we’re bad men. So, how does that affect you? It does and it affects your heart. You've got to deal with it. You have to keep heading towards that light in the tunnel regardless of how bright or dim it is. That's how I dealt with it. I couldn’t have done it on my own, I needed help. I needed my training from my army days. I needed the support that my sister accumulated from all the raising of awareness that she and the other family members did. 
 Now my sister got in touch with Amnesty International. They turned around and said, “Where's your brother?”. She went “India” and they said can’t do nothing there. We’re like, you're an international human rights organization, yet you won't go anywhere near India. Why is that? No one wants to touch India. I think they’re scared. I'm thinking, why? We’ve done nothing. Come and help us. I fought for you. I worked and signed on the dotted line. Gave my young adult life for Queen and country. At least help your personnel out, especially if they're innocent. They didn’t. I've got no qualm about, got no bad words to say about the embassy staff. [(42:00)] What they did for me and my family, like helping with the meal, helping with prison meets and I've got no problems. Other people may have problems, that's down to them. I personally don't. Do I massively have a big problem with the British government? Yes, from July 2014. 
 You should have listened to it. You should have pushed to get us home. You had over 50 odd high-ranking meetings. My sister made this known. How many meetings does it take for you to put your words into action? They always turn around and said we can't meddle in another country's affairs just as much as we wouldn't let them. I said, “Well, that's crap” because any other countries come as their personnel locked in a British prison and they cry. Oh, well, like, “Okay, we'll release them”. So why can't you do that? If you can show the Indian government of our innocence, then why aren't they going to let us go? So while we’re languishing, whether it be in a hostel at a time or when we get convicted again, or going to prison. I just wanted my government to do more. I believe they could have done more. They said they couldn't. The reason being is because it was India-UK trade deals.
 They’re not going to mess them up for six British, are they. As I said, [(44:00)] it was a nightmare. It was a horrible, difficult situation to be in. It was only going to get worse. However, we didn't know that. Just going back to July 2014, blokes were doing cartwheels because we're free, and then day 88, "Boom", the appeal went into the Supreme Court and dumped our hopes in an instant. Destroyed a lot of men. I believe it did. I think it did, especially for the families. It did with me, did with my family, my mom's getting excited. Two more days. I'm a free man. I'm not even too sure after the family heard about it before I did. It wasn't good. I Should tell them. By the way, I'm not going home. I'm not coming home just yet. How long is it going to take? how long is a piece of string? We're now going through the Supreme Court in India.
 We know how many ongoing court cases are going on there. It ain’t going to happen very quickly, and it didn’t. Some of that you got to deal with until you have to do anything court-related. We didn't go to Supreme Court, obviously. I think 1 or 2 traveled up. I wasn't going to travel up. I had a partner at the time. I met a lovely woman in Chennai. I was seeing her. So [(46:00)] I'm not going to travel up to New Delhi, not understanding what's going on. It's pointless. After hearing what happened in the Supreme Court, which kind of sealed our fate. I think back now and I'm like, someone has to take responsibility for that. They know they did wrong. They didn't want to admit it at first but they know they did wrong. It wasn't our country this time, it was someone else's.
 However, they didn't properly brief their lawyers. In India, there's a Caste System. It's mad. Even though he's a better lawyer than that lawyer because he comes from a different caste which is better than his. He can go first and I'm thinking “huh?”. So you got the day of the race is open to Supreme Court. You've got the prosecution waffle in their utter fantasy story. You've got our lawyer stating we were there for fuel and provisions, nothing more. As time went on we became a split faction. Tempers run high. People get frustrated. People don't trust certain lawyers. So they end up getting their own.
 Obviously, the Estonians got their own lawyer. I know, I provided them with the freaking paperwork and this is how they repay me. Do you know what I mean? All they had to tell their lawyer was you're getting fuel and provisions. End of 2 votes to 1, 3, 4, 5. What does he turn around and [(48:00)] say, Well, I don't know why the vessel was there because the judge asked a question. Right, can you tell me why the vessel was there? Their lawyer turned around, I don't know why the vessel was there. I'm just here to get these Estonians home. They're just crew. They've done nothing wrong. Well, the judge stopped listening after you said I don't know why the vessel was here. He stopped listening after that because he had enough.
 So they are saying one thing, we’re saying one thing, and they’re saying another. Three different answers to one question. You’ve given the judge no help at all. Apart from, right, we need to get to the bottom of this. A trial must happen. Where like, “Oh no.”. Well, the Q branch was loving it because guess where the trial is going to be? Back in their court in Tuticorin.

 Back in the beginning. In the lion's den, hornet’s nest, whatever you want to refer it to. There were more or less licking their lips and doing cartwheels over that Delhi court. We’re thinking, “Oh, my god. You've just messed it up”. You absolute assholes. Pardon my French. It wasn't nice. They were kind of regarded as dicks for a short. Yes, everyone kisses and makes up eventually. We're all in this together wherever we like it or not. Some people have just come to meet each other for the first time. Some people knew each other. We all have different backgrounds and different ways of dealing with things but we were all together.
 We all have to try and work as a team, [(50:00)] as best as we can. It was difficult to split factions once we've got convicted. People were getting tired. People were getting angry. People were getting upset, scared about whether we were ever going to see the light of day again, to be with our families. I understand that. I really did, because I felt that. Getting told right. They're going to court but it's not going to start. The next thing was July, they went, "Right, we're going to start the court in September". So traveling to the court dates, I was just like, this is bullshit. I told my lawyer, I said unless the judge requires me to be here, I’m not coming. I'll speak to the guys. They'll brief me up. They'll find out because some of the Brit guys put a case paperwork up to give to the lawyers but made out that the lawyers did it themselves because that's how they acted.
 We had everything going into that trial. They didn't stand a chance. They had no leg to stand on. It's quite ironic when they had the map and the judge said where was the ship and they were looking at the map. You don't even know where we were. So who told you where we were? You can't even remember. Oh, yes. The agent, that’s who told you. That's a slimy piece of shit. He sold us out. I'm quite adamant, that's the truth. He sold me down the [(52:00)] river. It all comes apparent when you find out the paperwork during the trial. How much money was sent to the agent to get this fuel and provisions? How much was left? It was all 3rd party, get the cheapest. The money left over, where the company just writes that off because they can make that back in a day, if not less.
 That was his green card. That was his green ticket. Buying his freedom while we suffer. Why wasn't the agent getting prosecuted? So many questions. So many rumours we hear. So many this, so many that. Get all this in your head. I don't know what to believe. It was quite difficult. The court for the trial was horrible. I turned up a few times. My lawyer said, “Tell the judge that requires me to be here. I'm not coming, no more”. The reason being is that I had the translator from our lawyer. Tell me when they were doing the cross references with the so-called personnel that they were interviewing. Give a statement. You weren't there but write a statement. Just stop someone on the street. Yes, will you sign the statement saying these have done illegal acts? That's what it was like. It was mental.
 It was the collector of evidence, [(54:00)] but it didn't matter what he said. They still take his original statement. So even when he's getting grilled by our lawyers when he's getting a cross reference, he turns around and says, well if I saw the ballistics report, I wouldn't have put the charges on the men. So you put weapons offenses on 35 men for 6 weapons or 5 weapons that you deemed were illegal which weren't illegal. The ballistics expert's report told you that they're not illegal. You can't be bothered because you were pressurised by the Q branch or probably a nice little pay backhander to put the charges on us so we could go to prison. Mental, absolute mental. I was just sick to my stomach. I'm not coming down here. I'm not unless it's me getting released. So that went a few months.
 Daren Nair: 

Sorry to interrupt, but what is Q branch?
 Nick Dunn: 

Q branch was the name of the police organization that was in charge of the investigation. A lady headed it up. I actually met her personally. She couldn't care. I showed her pictures of my mom, with tubes, coming out of her head after the operation. I said you caused this. I had letters from the lawyers stated you’re illegally holding us against our will. Abusing your own Indian law. She wasn't interested. She went, we let the courts decide. We'll make sure your prosecutor turns up. The prosecutors in the UK, If they don't [(56:00)] turn up, I think the case was thrown out or they'll be like, will reconvene once we get someone to act as a temporary prosecutor. They just went, "We'll delay in 2 weeks because the prosecutor doesn't turn up". During the court trial, it was horrible, it was sickening and disgusting. I didn't want to be there. I'll get briefed up by the Brit guys who were there. Then I would brief my family but I wouldn't put any of my take on it. I would copy and paste and then I and my family would discuss it. I'm not going to say about getting off my lawyer via one of the Brit guys’ emails to me. Yes, I'll give you my take.
 I wasn't there, mom or dad. How do you know? I’ll just go copy-paste, send, and discuss. What would I do now? how are you feeling? Blah, blah. Then it came towards Christmas. We all were there. The lawyers said before we went for Christmas recess, we've done everything we can. I think it'll be a madman to deny you your freedom, an absolute madman. Christmas comes, Christmas goes. January comes, and the big day comes. The judgment day, January 10 or 11, is one of the two. I should remember but there are certain things you tend to forget [(58:00)] because you don't want to know. You just remember the incident. That's what I do.
 The media was going crazy. I was the last to turn up in court. You see actual video footage of me coming to court like that because I'm late. The media was doing my tits in and I was like I need to go. I needed to try and find a Tuk-tuk driver. Everyone was in the court. We were at the back. Stood by the bench, down the right side were the legal team representing us, our staff from the Estonian embassy, the British government. On the left were Bill, Ben, the flower pot men, and their crew. Then the judge and his assistants at the front. A bit of this, a bit of that, all in Tamil. Then one of the judge's assistants stands up and says something in Tamil. Well, one of our embassy staff didn't know how quickly she got out that door. She went straight on the blower. Straight on her phone. Madam Q branch as we referred to her. She would do the same. She nearly tripped on us running out of that court room. She didn't know how fast to vacate it.
 I was like, you bastard. Sorry for my French there but I was thinking you can't even, you horrible nasty devious woman. You've just destroyed my life and all the people around me. Anyways, the judge's assistant says something. I'm like, “What did he say?" [(60:00)] Our legal representative came over. I've seen some scared faces in my time as I've been in Iraq and in Afghanistan. You see kid's faces scared. Women and children scared. I've never seen a man so of petrified in his life. He's having to tell 35 men, quite big burly men, that they are being sentenced to 5 years. He tells us anyway, that we are being sentenced to 5 years. We're like, "What?" You’re joking with me? I would say, I'm bemused, shocked, and confused. Everything was just going on and I was like, what the hell do I do? I've got stuff in the hotel room down in Tuticorin. I got my stuff up in Chennai. What the hell is going to happen? They're not going to just let me go back and sort my stuff out, then come back and go to the prison. They'll be thinking you'll do a runner, which I would, I would have done a runner. I already tried to pull that trick but then I realised it's going to cause more problems than good. When your mind thinks of weird and wonderful things and you are at the bottom of your morale, just try and think of stuff to escape.
 I wouldn't have been able to escape prison but escape India. However, it is quite hard. I stand out like a sore thumb. [(62:00)] So that was knocked on the head. So yes, you kind of dismissed from the court just to stand around while things, paperwork was getting sorted. There were loads of police officers and prison guards around. That's when I knew something wasn't right. When I saw them all turn up alongside the court doors. I was like, this doesn't look like this, and that wasn't. My gut instinct was right. The nightmare is continuing, but it's now getting worse. I'm getting sentenced to 5 years. I've already done all this. We're now in 2016. I've been there since 2013. Now I'm going to make sure my family knows this wonderful news. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
 I rang my sister. I said Lisa, we need to get to mom's now. She went, "Okay, I'm going there now". My mom’s friend was assisting her and getting her ready and stuff like that because my mom requires carers now. I said I'll ring you back once I've rung dad. So l rang my dad. I said dad, it's not good. What do you mean it’s not good? I said I’ve been sentenced to 5 years. My dad's not one to show emotions. I’ve only seen his emotions when I told them I was going to Afghanistan. He’s not one for showing his emotions.
 I said dad, [(64:00)] we're getting put in prison for 5 years. He says, "But the weapons are fine". I said yes dad I know. This is corruption at its highest order. He says, so what happens now? I said well, this is the last phone call for however long. I mean, well, what do you say? Then, obviously, I rang back my sister. She puts us on the loudspeaker. I said to my sister, are we ready? She says yes. I say it's not good. I'm being sentenced to 5 years. In that moment, when humans or an animal is badly injured they make one hell of a scream. A horrible sound. That's how my mom sounded. I've never heard a human make such noise in my entire life. How do you digest your mom's scream down the phone because her baby boy’s going to prison for 5 years? On top of the time he's doing and he's not coming home. What do you do? How do you take that onboard? I was just like, I'm going to strangle that bastard. I want to strangle him right now for the pain he has caused my family. That's going to make matters worse. [(66:00)]
 Daren Nair:  

I’m sorry, which specific guy do you want to strangle?
 Nick Dunn: 

The judge. I wanted to strangle the judge on the decision he's just made. I'm just like, what on earth has possessed you to do that? How much have they bought you for? We were told by Indians that you're in the worst state of India. They don't like the British. The lower courts are run by the police. The best way is to get away from the court. Yes, it would have been great to have a trial at the high court. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. It's just the appeals. The trials start at the lower court or begin in the Supreme Court. We were speaking with the embassy. They arranged to get our stuff from the hotel. I rang my partner at the time. I said look, it's not good. She started crying down the phone.
 She composed herself. I said look, I need you to do me a favour. Can you go to the hostel? Can you pack my belongings? Can you take them to the embassy? I'm going to prison for 5 years. Do me this favour, forget about me. Get on with your life. I didn't want to do that. I didn't get rid of her because she showed love and loyalty. She went to that prison the next day, trying to see me. [(68:00)] She did that every day of that week. The embassy were trying to get her in, but because she was from Assam and I’m a white British guy, they weren't going to allow her to get in.
 She did eventually get in. It took a couple of months later when my sister came to visit me in March for my birthday. So yes, that's us convicted, back on the bus, backed on with police guards, prison guards with weapons. You don't know the state of their weapons. They’ve fallen asleep, weapons are going all over. I'm like get that out of my face man. They’re bloody killers. They're driving like lunatics, screaming for 14 hours. Guess what? We had a tyre blowout. I was like, we’re not even going to make it to prison. We're going to die on the side of the road here. Fortunately, we didn't but it could have been worse. So then we had to wait for another bus to come and get us to then finish the journey. We’re not handcuffed, so the prison guards were proper on edge. If we wanted to do something, we would have done something. Just throwing Indian prison guards about. We could have disarmed them all, strangle them in a way but what would that achieve?
 Twenty-three white foreigners cutting around India. That's not going to be a difficult task to get arrested again, is it? Stand out like a sore thumb. So you just go with it. Hope for the best that you make it there in one piece. So we arrived back to the same prison, [(70:00)] but next door. Sent to prison 1, the prison they go to once you've been convicted. It was daylight, the jailer at that time, we left when she was superintendent. She was the jailer, she got promoted. Welcomed us as best as she could. That was it. Five years starts now.
 Daren Nair: 

Now if you want to find out what happens next, please listen to part 2 of Nick Dunn's story. Available next Wednesday, where he talks about starting his 5-year prison sentence, using his military training to survive. Then almost 2 years later, Nick and the rest of the Chennai Six get acquitted by an appeals court and Nick gets ready to fly home to the UK. Thank you for listening to Pod Hostage Diplomacy. Take care.