Chandlers sell hostage story 'for £500,000'

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The Independent Online

Freed hostages Paul and Rachel Chandler have sold the story of how they were kidnapped by Somali pirates in a deal worth an estimated £500,000.

In a statement released yesterday, the retired couple, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said they had opted to give interviews with one broadcaster and one newspaper.

The price agreed has not been divulged. But PR expert Max Clifford said he believed the story was worth around half a million pounds.

The Chandlers said the money would go towards repaying "certain immediate debts" resulting from their "unfortunate and troubling episode".

The couple were freed earlier this month after more than a year in captivity during which they were beaten by their captors.

They were snatched during a round-the-world sailing trip, when their 38-foot yacht, the Lynn Rival, was stormed by armed men.

A ransom, reportedly paid by a mixture of private investors and the Somali government, secured their release and ended the 388-day ordeal.

It has been suggested that two payments totalling around one million dollars (£620,000) were made to the Chandlers' captors.

The UK government has stressed that it did not contribute to the ransom payout.

In yesterday's statement, the Chandlers said that they had sold their story to recoup some of the costs they have incurred.

It read: "We are not a large and wealthy corporation and have had to take the decision to go with one broadcaster and one national daily newspaper in order to repay certain immediate debts resulting from this unfortunate and troubling episode in our lives."

An article appeared in last weekend's Mail on Sunday in which the couple described their captors as "evil", but spoke of how they wanted to help the Somali people restore law and order in the war-ravaged country.

Broadcast rights to the story have been sold to ITN which will be producing a Tonight special.

The price of the Chandlers' story is rumoured to be a six-figure sum.

Mr Clifford said: "The story is worth about half a million pound. If I was representing them, and the deal was with ITV and the Mail, that is what I would expect."

In yesterday's statement, the Chandlers also thanked the British media for adhering to a High Court injunction preventing it from reporting their movements until they had been transported to a safe place.

"We will never know the part your support played in the eventual release but after the 10 weeks of the injunction we were free which is justification enough for it being in place," the Chandlers said.