AN EX-PARATROOPER who has spent the last three years in an Indian jail has finally received support from the Prime Minister.

After relentless campaigning from supporters, Theresa May raised the case of Billy Irving, 35, when she met with her counterpart Narendra Modi during a trade visit to the country last week.

Billy has been unable to return to his wife Yvonne, 27, and one-year-old son William, who remain at the family home in Neilston, after being imprisoned for five years on illegal firearms charges in October 2013.

An Indian court ruled he and five other British anti-piracy seamen did not have written permission for the weapons they carried into the country’s waters while working on board the MV Seamen Guard Ohio.

All six men, who are currently in the squalid Chennai prison, have consistently protested their innocence.

Supporters campaigning on behalf of the “Chennai Six” published documents which show the prisoners’ arms licences were issued by the British Government.

However, after an appeal process had to be restarted last month when a judge failed to appear, the men have a glimmer of hope now that Mrs May has broached the subject with Prime Minister Modi.

Reports indicate that Mr Modi has made it clear he would like to see the two governments work together to devise a solution once the current appeals process concludes.

The news has been welcomed by East Renfrewshire’s Member of Parliament Kirsten Oswald, who has consistently pressed for the Foreign Office to act on the matter.

Ms Oswald, who has also urged the Prime Minister to expand on what was said during the New Delhi meeting, said: “I was pleased to hear that Theresa May raised the case of Billy Irving and his colleagues when she was in India.

“It is a sign the strong campaigning by the friends and families of the men held in India is paying off.

“After several frustrating meetings with the Foreign Office, it was encouraging to see the issue feature so prominently in coverage of the meeting between the Prime Ministers.

“But, the families deserve more than a few lines in a press communique.

“That is why I have tabled a question to the Prime Minister asking what reassurances she received that the Indian Government will help get the men home as soon as possible.”

Billy has held his son William only a handful of times since his arrest three years ago.

Ms Oswald insists it is imperative that governmental action is taken as quickly as possible.

She said: “If the current appeal process is unsuccessful, the men should not be held in prison while the governments pore over the details of what went wrong.

“Theresa May needs to ensure that the Foreign Office is focussed on getting the men home.”