'My son thinks daddy will be home for Christmas ... that is quite sad'

Families of five Britons held hostage in Iraq for 19 months make an emotional appeal for their release

They have been held hostage in Iraq for nearly 19 months, largely forgotten in Britain because of an official government policy to discourage publicity.

But yesterday relatives and friends of five British men, who were kidnapped from the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad in May 2007, broke ranks with the Foreign Office in a bid to push the plight of their loved ones to “the top of the political agenda”.

It is thought that the group holding Peter Moore, a computer expert, and his four bodyguards, who are known only by their first names – Jason, Alan, Jason and Alec – asked for news of their capture to be kept quiet.

However, the kidnappers, who are seeking the release of Iraqi prisoners held by US forces in Iraq and have demanded the withdrawal of British troops, seemed to break their own news embargo when they released two videos of the men appealing for help from the British Government. Campaigners have pointed to the success of a high-profile campaign to free the BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was held in Gaza for four months last year.

British troops are due to leave Iraq next year, which might give some hope of a deal to secure the release of the men, but the fate of the prisoners held by the Americans remains unclear.

The kidnappers, who call themselves the Islamic Shiite Resistance in Iraq, have claimed one of the Britons has committed suicide, but this has not been confirmed. Amid the uncertainty, the families decided to speak out on BBC and Channel 4 news programmes as they faced a second Christmas without their loved ones.

Roseleen, the wife of Alan, said: “My son is three so he has not seen his dad since just before his second birthday.

He is now three-and-a-half and he has told people his daddy is coming home for Christmas, so that is quite sad.”

The mother-of-two said she hoped every day for her husband’s safe return. “It is very difficult but I just need to think of Alan coming home.

I visualise him coming off the plane to meet me quite often,” she added. “I cannot wait for him to come home and see us and I just get through every day hoping that maybe at some point I will get the phone call from him to say he’s on his way, so we just need to do the bestwe can.”

She said she had been able to discuss the situation with her daughter in simple terms, but struggled with her young son because he does not understand why his father cannot come home. Alan’s sister-in-law, Caroline, said the families were constantly trying to make sure their plight is “top of the political agenda”. “Clearly there is always more that could be done I think. We are pushing on every channel we can and knocking on as many doors as we can to make sure that this is top of the political agenda,” she said.

“But really this message is about the humanitarian impact on the families and really to try to get a message to the men themselves at Christmas.”

Jan, a friend of another of the hostages, Jason, said the men “certainly haven’t been forgotten”. “For Jason, just to let him know his daughter, his girlfriend, his family miss him and all love him dearly. But also… for them to stay strong wherever they are and the difficult situation they find themselves in,” she added.

Their decision to speak out was the latest sign of discontentment with the low-key policy adopted by the Foreign Office. Friends of Mr Moore, from Lincoln, who was working for a US management consultancy, Bearingpoint, to pay off a student loan after working for Voluntary Service Overseas, have set up a website at www.4pete.org .

And the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has also made a direct video appeal to the kidnappers.

TheForeign Office refused to comment.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on