Plane spotters released in Greece

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The five-week detention of 12 British plane-spotters came to an end this afternoon as they were released from a Greek jail.

Trip organiser Paul Coppin, 57, from Mildenhall, Suffolk, and Wayne Groves, 38, of Tamworth, were the first Britons to be released after the two Dutchmen were let out.

They have to return to Greece next year to stand trial on a charge of gathering secret information after allegedly taking photos at a military base.

Typical of the problems they have experienced over the last five weeks, the men had to wait several hours past the scheduled release time of 8am (British time) while paperwork was finalised.

During the many set–backs, court postponements and delays, concerns grew for their well–being and the conditions in which they were being held, especially for the only woman in the group, Mr Coppin's wife Lesley.

Labour East MEP Richard Howitt, who had battled for their release, was at the jail and was working on the final release of the remaining party.

Families raised the bail money within 24 hours and it was then left to the Foreign Office to get the cash to Kalamata yesterday afternoon.

The two Dutchmen were loaned their bail money by their Government but Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he would not use taxpayers' money to post the Britons' bail.

The British members of the group are trip organiser Paul Coppin, 57, and his wife Lesley, 51, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, Peter Norris, 52, of Uxbridge, west London, Antoni Adamiak, 37, of London; Andrew Jenkins, 32, of York; Wayne Groves, 38, of Tamworth; Michael Bursell, 47, of Swanland, near Hull; Michael Keane, 57, of Dartford, Kent; Steven Rush, 38, from Caterham, Surrey; Christopher Wilson, 46, who lives close to Gatwick Airport; Graham Arnold, 38, from Ottershaw, Surrey; and Garry Fagan, 30, from Kegworth, Leicestershire.