Home at last, hostage lands back in Britain

IT worker Peter Moore touches down at RAF base after 31-month ordeal in Iraq
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The Independent Online

Thirty-one months after he was taken hostage, and two days after he was led from a cell convinced he was about to be executed, Peter Moore has arrived back in Britain.

The computer consultant touched down at RAF Brize Norton yesterday afternoon after spending a final night in Iraq, this time at the British embassy in Baghdad rather than alone in a cramped cell. He was reunited with members of his family last night. In a statement, his step-parents, Fran and Pauline Sweeney, said: "We are thrilled to have Peter back safely. We have a lot of catching up to do and would like time with Peter on our own."

Mr Moore, 36, from Lincoln, was flown earlier yesterday from Baghdad to Amman, the Jordanian capital, where he was transferred to an International SOS aircraft for his flight to RAF Brize Norton. On both flights, he was accompanied by a consular official from Baghdad. He was met at Brize Norton by a London-based Foreign Office official after touching down at just after 5pm before being driven in a people carrier to a secret location to be reunited with his step-parents.

The computer expert was seized from an Iraqi government building with his four British bodyguards in May 2007, in a carefully planned operation by a militant group thought to be the League of Righteousness, which has strong links with Iran. Mr Moore is thought to be the only one of the five hostages to have survived. The bodies of Alec MacLachlan, Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell have already been repatriated. The fourth bodyguard, Alan McMenemy, is also believed to have been murdered.

The safe arrival back in Britain of Mr Moore came as families of the hostages questioned the role and tactics of the Government in securing their release. Details of the flight were kept secret from his biological father, Graeme Moore, who has been publicly critical of the Foreign Office and only learned his son was back in Britain from The Independent. "He's landed? Oh," said Mr Moore senior. "The Foreign Office aren't allowing him to speak to his family or friends.

"We are glad he's home. Of course we are not with him and we are not able to talk to him but we are absolutely delighted. I want to give him a big hug."

He claimed that secret talks were held between US negotiators and the captors without the British Government's knowledge. He said a source in the country texted him a month ago, saying the Americans were talking to his son's kidnappers about the release of Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the League of Righteousness, who was transferred from US to Iraqi custody before Mr Moore's release.

Ian Stephen, a consultant psychologist, said yesterday that re-adapting will be difficult for the released hostage. "Peter Moore's biggest problem will be adjusting to life on the outside. His mental state will be fragile because he has spent every day waiting and wondering about what is going to happen to him," he said. "When you are in a stressful situation you cope. It is not until afterwards that it starts to affect you badly."