Mann returns to the arms of his wife

The mercenary Simon Mann, 57, celebrated his freedom with his wife, Amanda, yesterday as he thanked people for the "warmth" shown since his release from a 34-year jail sentence for his part in plotting a coup.

The Old Etonian and ex-SAS soldier was pardoned earlier this week after being jailed over a bungled coup in Equatorial Guinea and returned to the UK on Wednesday in a private jet.

Mr Mann met for the first time his young son who was born after he left the UK. He did not have a chance to see Arthur before being captured on a runway in Harare, Zimbabwe, in March 2004 and jailed for his part in the plot to topple Equatorial Guinea's government and install opposition leader Severo Moto.

Mr Mann said: "There hasn't been a moment during the last five-and-a-half years when I have not dreamt of being back with my family."

Scotland Yard detectives are preparing to question Mr Mann, who claimed during his trial that several other prominent figures helped to organise and finance the plot in London.