Joy and anguish as hostage returns home

FREED hostage Peter Moore returned to the UK from Iraq for a New Year's Day reunion with his family yesterday, marking the end of his two-and-a-half year ordeal.

But there was no comfort for the family of Scottish bodyguard Alan McMenemy, who is presumed to have been killed but whose body has not been returned by his kidnappers.

Yesterday, 36-year-old IT expert Mr Moore, from Lincoln, was flown to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

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His step-parents Fran and Pauline Sweeney said: "We are thrilled to have Peter back safely. We have a lot of catching up to do and would like to have time with Peter on our own. We would now ask the media to give us space and privacy."

Last night, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "Peter Moore arrived back in the UK this evening. An International SOS flight from Jordan landed at RAF Brize Norton at around 1712hrs BST."

Mr Moore was flown from Baghdad to Amman in Jordan earlier yesterday before transferring to the SOS flight home. He was accompanied by a British consular official from Baghdad.

It has been reported the computer programmer will be taken to a secret location in the UK where he will be given psychological support to recover from his ordeal. Mr Moore, who worked for a US company in Iraq, has already revealed the first six months of his captivity had been harsh but that he spent the past few months in a more comfortable setting, with his own bathroom, television, PlayStation games console and computer.

Mr Moore, along with four bodyguards, who worked for a Canadian security firm, were taken hostage from the Iraqi Finance Ministry in May 2007 by 40 armed men dressed as police.

All four of the guards are believed to have been killed shortly afterwards.

The bodies of three men – Alec MacLachlan, 30, from Llanelli, South Wales; Jason Swindlehurst, 38, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire; and Jason Creswell, 39, originally from Glasgow – were passed to UK authorities last year. Coroners' reports show that Mr Creswell and Mr Swindlehurst died from gunshot wounds, and Mr MacLachlan was killed by a single shot to the head.

The fate of Alan McMenemy, 34 from Glasgow, was still no clearer yesterday. His wife Roseleen told The Scotsman earlier this week that Mr Moore's release had given her a glimmer of hope that her husband might still be alive.

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But Foreign Office officials said they believed he was dead.

A Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday that the repatriation of Mr McMenemy's body is being treated as a priority, saying Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised the issue with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday. The spokesman said: "We continue to do all we can to secure the return of Alan's body. In a telephone conversation on New Year's Eve, Gordon Brown received reassurance from the Iraqi prime minister that securing the release of Alan's body remains a priority for the Iraqi authorities."

The British government continues to deny reports that Mr Moore was released in exchange for the release of the Iraqi cleric Qais al-Ghazali.

It also says there is no evidence the hostages were held in Iran – despite the former head of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, saying he is "certain" the hostages were taken over the border.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "There has been no prisoner exchange deal in the case of Peter Moore.

"The United States transferred Qais al-Ghazali to government of Iraq custody under the two countries' Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa).

"The UK continues to be kept informed of this process through its contacts with the United States and the government of Iraq.

"Separately, the government of Iraq is carrying out a process of reconciliation with groups willing to renounce violence and enter the political mainstream.

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"Since holding hostages is incompatible with reconciliation, we judge that progress on the wider reconciliation effort will benefit hostages held in Iraq."


THE family of Alan McMenemy, the Scottish bodyguard who was taken hostage alongside IT expert Peter Moore, have criticised the government for their handling of the kidnappings.

Mr McMenemy's family, who have always hoped that the 34-year-old father of two may still be found alive, say they have been kept in the dark about events surrounding the kidnaps that happened two years ago.

Dennis McMenemy, father of Alan, accused the Foreign Office of "deceit, lies and cover up", over allegations the kidnapped Britons may have been held in Iran.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are deeply sorry that Mr McMenemy feels we have not kept him fully informed."