Plane-spotters to get bail money back

By Patrick LowmanA GROUP of plane-spotters – including East Anglian couple Paul and Lesley Coppin – who were cleared of spying charges are to have their £126,000 bail money returned.

By Patrick Lowman

A GROUP of plane-spotters – including East Anglian couple Paul and Lesley Coppin – who were cleared of spying charges are to have their £126,000 bail money returned.

After a year of legal wrangles the Greek authorities have finally agreed to give back the £9,000 bail each of the 11 Britons and two Dutchmen paid before last year's trial.

The group has been informed judges in the Greek courts have ruled all those cleared of espionage charges will get their bail fees returned within 20 days.


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Although pleased by the announcement Mr Coppin, who lives with his wife in Mildenhall, said he still had doubts whether he would see the money again. "I still have absolutely no faith in the Greek authorities or legal system," he added.

The Suffolk couple were among a group of plane-spotters arrested on suspicion of spying as they attended an air show in the southern Greek town of Kalamata in 2001.

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Mrs Coppin had joined her plane-loving husband on the trip because they were treating the holiday as a late honeymoon.

She was arrested as she sat on a bus doing a crossword, while her husband continued to watch the show. Mrs Coppin had returned to the bus because she had no interest in planes or aviation.

The plane-spotters were kept in jail for five weeks before being freed on bail, costing them £9,000 each.

They were found guilty of the charges in a Greek court, but returned to Greece last April and had their convictions quashed on appeal. Since then the plane-spotters have been battling to get back their bail payments.

Speaking from his home last night, Mr Coppin said: "In theory I am pleased that there finally seems to be some sort of movement, but I will not be convinced until I actually see the money.

"I am still not 100% convinced we will get our money back. The judges have said we should get the money back in 20 days, but I still do not trust them or the Greek lawyers and authorities.

"I think they are still not happy that we got off and I would be surprised if we get all our money back."

He added: "I think it is disgusting it has taken them this long to make a decision. We went back in good faith last April and when we were cleared we should have got the money back then.

"The situation has caused some of the group real hardship as they had to borrow the money in the first place, it just not right. I hope we do get the money so we can finally draw a line under all this and get on with our lives."

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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