Parents of would-be terrorist tell of their deep shock

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The Independent Online

The mother and father of Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber, spoke for the first time yesterday of the shock of learning that their son had apparently tried to blow up a passenger jet.

Lesley Hughes, who is in her late 50s and lives in Somerset, first learnt of the arrest of her 28-year-old son when his name was released by police in the United States on Friday.

"He is my son. I am deeply shocked, as any mother would be. I am concerned about the allegations being made against my son," she said in a statement issued by her solicitors. "Other than what I have heard or read in the media I have no knowledge of this matter," she said.

The daughter of an accountant and a magistrate, she lives on the edge of the market town of Frome, Somerset, with her partner, Bill Irvine, and his son.

Last night, Mr Reid's father, Robin Colvin Reid, was reported to have said: "My son is a determined boy and I can imagine him being determined enough to blow himself to bits. What I just can't believe is that he would want to hurt anyone else in doing it unless, that is, he had been brainwashed, which seems the case."

The 51-year-old said he had introduced his son to Islam. Robin Reid, who is black, had gone to Brixton Mosque because he was fed up with suffering from racism. He had spent 18 years in prison, largely for car theft and burglary.

"As far as I am concerned he's got mixed up with a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists and they have tried to persuade him to do what they think is right in their eyes," he said.

Mr Reid separated from Mrs Hughes, who has reverted to her maiden name, in 1978, and they were divorced in 1984. Last night their son was on suicide watch in a Boston jail. He will make his first court appearance today, accused of assaulting the flight crew on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami.