Home at last: Peter Moore returms to Britain

Freed hostage Peter Moore arrived at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today following his two-and-a-half-year kidnap ordeal in Iraq.

The 36-year-old computer expert, from Lincoln, touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire shortly after 5pm.

Mr Moore was seized with his four British bodyguards by militants posing as police at Baghdad's finance ministry in May 2007.

Mr Moore's return to the UK was veiled in secrecy following a request for privacy from his family.

He spent a quiet New Year's Eve at the Baghdad embassy before boarding his UK-bound flight.

His family are believed to have asked for a "period of decompression", enabling Mr Moore to ease gently back into public life.

He was finally released from captivity on Wednesday following lengthy negotiations.

The bodies of three of his bodyguards - Alec MacLachlan, 30, from Llanelli, South Wales, Jason Swindlehurst, 38, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, 39, originally from Glasgow - were passed to UK authorities last year.

A fourth bodyguard, Alan McMenemy, 34, from Glasgow, is also believed to have been killed.

Mr Moore touched down in a Challenger executive jet at Bay 15 of the RAF base.

He had stopped off in Amman, Jordan, before making the six-hour journey home on board the civilian plane.

Flight lieutenant Mark Concarr boarded the plane to carry out routine checks before Mr Moore was welcomed back by Foreign Office official Lesley Beaton. Within minutes of touching down, Mr Moore stepped off the plane into the wintry British air wearing a blue fleece top, cream trousers and a cap. He shook hands with a flight engineer as he left peering out from underneath his cap.

He then boarded a people carrier flanked by officials to be reunited with his family at an undisclosed location.

Mrs Beaton said: "My job is to look after his welfare. The key is to reunite him with his family. The family are aware that there is intense media interest. We will be talking to them."

In a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Mr Moore's 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 to have time with Peter on our own. We would now ask the media to give us space and privacy."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Peter was met by Foreign Office staff and will be reunited with his family later. Peter and his family have asked for privacy at this time."

Mr Moore's father, Graeme, said: "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 when I see him but he will probably shove me through the wall, looking at the size of him.

"Me and his friends can't wait to see him and it's just a massive relief to get him home."

Mr Moore's father, who has been critical of the Government's handling of the case, claimed he had been "fully vindicated", adding: "We've always said that we would get Pete out regardless of the Foreign Office."

He added: "Once he gets out, his friends will tell him the truth about what has gone on."

Mr Moore's safe return comes as families of the hostages continued to question the role the Government had played in securing their release.

Earlier today, Graeme Moore claimed secret talks were held between American negotiators and his son's captors without the British Government's knowledge.

The 60-year-old 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 Asaib al-Haq, or the League of Righteousness, was transferred from US to Iraqi custody shortly before the release of Mr Moore.

The news prompted speculation of a prisoner exchange deal, since denied by the Foreign Office.

A spokesman said: "The United States transferred Qais al-Khazali to government of Iraq custody under the two countries' Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa).