HC Deb 22 July 1981 vol 9 cc306-7
6. Mr. Colin Shepherd

asked the Lord Privy Seal if any charges have been preferred against Mr. Andrew Pyke, a British citizen detained in Iran since August 1980; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd

The Iranian authorities said first that Mr. Pyke was charged with espionage. They have since dropped this and substituted charges concerning the commercial activities of the Dutch-Iranian firm which employed Mr. Pyke in Iran. We remain very concerned at his detention for almost 11 months, and we continue to do all we can on his behalf. In particular, we have pressed the Iranians to clarify further the charges against him and to indicate when his case might be resolved.

Mr. Shepherd

Does my hon. Friend agree that the situation regarding Mr. Pyke remains most unsatisfactory and that it is giving rise to deep concern among his family, who are worried about the sporadic consular access being granted to him? Will my hon. Friend assure the House that Her Majesty's Government will in no way forget the welfare of Mr. Pyke and that they will take all possible steps, by whatever means necessary, to establish the exact nature of the allegations being made against Mr. Pyke so that he may prepare his defence, as we would allow any foreigner detained in this country to do?

Mr. Hurd

I agree with my hon. Friend, and I give that assurance. It is something that charges of espionage have been dropped, but it is certainly not enough. On the question of regular consular visits, particularly, the situation leaves much to be desired.

Mr. Newens

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of us who were in the past extremely critical of the regime of the Shah are now very disturbed at the lack of justice shown in recent decisions made in Iran? We are deeply concerned and would therefore wish strongly to add our voices to the concern being expressed about Mr. Pyke. We hope that the Government will do everything possible in this respect.

Mr. Hurd

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's evenhanded support.

Mr. David Atkinson

What representations have been made at the current Helsinki review conference discussions in Madrid on the fate of the Siberian Seven—the two Russian Christian families who have spent the last three years in asylum in the American embassy in Moscow? Will my hon. Friend now initiate discussions beween the two sides to ensure—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The supplementary question must relate to Mr. Andrew Pyke. The hon. Gentleman may do better next time.