THE fiancee of the Scots ex-soldier imprisoned in India on firearms offences says she has been handed new hope of his release after Boris Johnson said the UK will "leave no stone unturned" to bring him home.

Billy Irving, 37, from Connel, Argyll and Bute, and five other British anti-piracy security guards were jailed for five years in January, last year, for possession of illegal weapons after they were arrested while aboard the ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio.

They have been detained ever since the vessel strayed into Indian waters without permission in October, 2012.

East Lothian Courier:

Puzhal Prison, near Chennai where the men are held

But ever since the families of the so-called Chennai Six have fought an increasingly frustrating battle to get their release - and have been critical of Foreign Office inaction over the men's plight.

Conservative former Foreign Office minister Sir Hugo Swire said it was time the ex-soldiers were brought home and suggested the Foreign Secretary meets the chief minister in the state where they are being held to find a solution.

Labour MP Christian Matheson also appealed for help, telling Mr Johnson to "do a deal" and ensure he can have a pint with one of those affected who he represents as City of Chester MP.

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Hugo told Mr Johnson: "Whilst I welcome the fact the Prime Minister raised the issue of the Chennai Six with Mr Modi at the G20, can I urge you to focus your efforts on the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and to seek a meeting with her urgently.

"It's almost four years since our boys have been languishing in jail there, I visited them myself.

"But it's time, frankly, that they were brought home."

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Mr Johnson replied: "You are absolutely right. You suggest an interesting avenue for further work. I will certainly look at the possibility of talking to the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

"Whether we will be any more successful with her in making our points, I will ascertain, but we will leave no stone unturned."

Mr Irving’s 28-year-old fiancee Yvonne MacHugh has said she was "delighted" with Mr Johnson's statement saying it is believed to be the first time he has interacted with the families, despite a barrage of emails and letters.

"To hear him say such strong words like that has ignited a fire in us that we didn't have before."

Just last month hundreds of campaigners descended on the Indian Embassy in London to call for the release of the Chennai Six.

But Ms Irving from Neilston, East Renfrewshire admitted: "I felt we were getting stuck in a rut that nobody was going to help, that everything we were doing, all the protests, everyone writing letters was just getting nowhere.

"But now it feels like we are actually being heard and we just hope that he does put those words into action and brings them home.

"And I hope he moves fast, because it is already four years of their life that they have lost, away from family. It has been 274 days since the appeal finished without even a verdict. So he really does have to take action now. "At the moment we are stuck in limbo with nowhere to turn and nothing we can do and the men are still in prison."

The Chennai Six and nearly 30 others were apprehended after their ship strayed into Indian waters without permission in October, 2012 - and despite producing papers that confirmed their weapons were held legally, they were jailed.

East Lothian Courier:

The British men being held in India were all working for the US maritime security firm AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection in the Indian Ocean when their ship was detained.

Once they boarded the vessel, Indian customs officials and police found 35 guns, including semi-automatic weapons, and almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

The prisoners were held for six months before the charges were inexplicably dropped. But Mr Irving was prohibited from returning home until the conclusion of a police appeal which eventually led to the men being jailed.

It is claimed licences produced to Indian courts authorised the export of arms and other equipment, which included semi-automatic assault rifles to Avantfort.

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The case has been branded a miscarriage of justice while Prime Minister Theresa May raised their plight with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit.

Mr Matheson had earlier told the Commons: "Another Foreign Office Questions and still my constituent Ray Tindall and the other men of the Chennai Six are incarcerated in India.

"Will the minister pick up the phone to their opposite numbers in India, do a deal to get the men deported, so Ray and I can have a pint in Chester before the summer is out?"

Mr Johnson said he appreciated Mr Matheson's persistence, adding he has personally raised the case with his Indian counterparts on several occasions.

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He added: "What they say to me is they cannot interfere in their own courts system, any more than we can interfere in our own courts system.

"That is where the matter currently stands but I wish to assure you that we continue to raise it on your behalf and on behalf of your constituents."