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British couple kidnapped by Somalis return home

Paul and Rachel Chandler come home after 13 months in captivity at the hands of Somali pirates.

Rachel and Paul Chandler arrive in Heathrow last night, 388 days after being taken into captivity by Somali pirates.
Rachel and Paul Chandler arrive in Heathrow last night, 388 days after being taken into captivity by Somali pirates.
Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

THE BRITISH COUPLE who were kidnapped by Somali pirates 13 months ago are today spending their first full day back in Britain after being released by their captors yesterday – in exchange for what is reportedly a massive ransom payment.

The couple arrived at Heathrow airport last night after over a year in captivity, having been abducted off the Seychelles while yachting towards Tanzania. They had been handed over to local officials in Adodo, from where they were brought to the Somali capital Mogadishu and onward to Nairobi, from where they flown home.

Paul (60) and Rachel (57), from Kent, left their passenger flight separately from the other passengers and were reunited with their children at a private location before being briefed by Foreign Office and security officials.

A family spokesman told PA that while the two were “weary and tired as any of us would be having been put in their position,” their spirits remained “high”.

The couple are likely to spend a few days in privacy in order to readjust to home life before beginning a media circuit which PR guru Max Clifford believes could earn them up to £5m (€5.89m).

Some of that money, it is understood, will be used to repay the ransom fee they organised in order to buy their freedom, estimated to be about $750,000 (€556,000).

Their return home was not an entirely happy one, however; Paul was told upon arrival home that he had missed the death and burial of his father, who had died in July.

It has been suggested elsewhere, however, that the couple could have been freed almost a year ago for a far lesser ransom; Nick Davis, a maritime security expert, told the Daily Telegraph that he had raised £100,000 in ransom money from private donors last year and said he would have been able to secure the Chandlers’ freedom for that price if the Foreign Office had lent its support.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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