Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 13:29 GMT
Murdered hostages 'confessed to spying'
Stanley Shaw, pictured with his grandson, was beheaded.
A senior Chechen official says the four hostages murdered by their kidnappers earlier this week made videotaped confessions in which they admitted spying for the UK, US and Israel.
The Foreign Office said it had heard the reports but had not seen a copy of the tape.
'Videotape found by commandos'
Chechnya's Vice-President, Vakha Arsanov, is reported to have showed the videotape to a foreign journalist.
Mr Arsanov said Chechen commandos, who are hunting for the kidnap gang, found the tape on Wednesday.
On the tape the four hostages identify themselves and then, speaking in Russian, go on to say: "We have been recruited by the English intelligence service.
"We installed a satellite aerial so that all phone conversations on Chechen territory were heard by German, English and Israeli special services and the CIA."
A Foreign Office spokesman said he could not confirm or deny the four were spying but he said the allegations were "utterly implausible".
He pointed out the two humanitarian workers released earlier this year, Camilla Carr and Jon Jones, were also accused of spying and suggested the kidnappers had a "blinkered" view of the world.
A spokesman for Granger Telecom immediately dismissed any suggestion the men had been working as spies.
He said: "Clearly we will be in touch with the appropriate authorities in seeking confirmation as to the authenticity of the reported video.
"However, there is no truth whatsoever to the suggestion that the former telecommunication engineers had any association with any UK intelligence organisations."
The hostages, who were abducted in the capital, Grozny on 3 October, were killed by kidnappers on Monday after a bungled rescue attempt.
The British ambassador to Moscow, Sir Andrew Wood, said: "We don't comment on these things in general. But any reasonable analysis would show that we have no wish to spy on Chechen territory."
She said: "My brother is dead because these idiots have done this."
Miss Hickey said she did not hold Granger Telecom responsible for the deaths and said her brother was a "grown man" who was responsible for his own actions.
Miss Hickey said the rescue attempt ruined delicate negotiations which were going on between Granger and the kidnappers.
She said her father and brother, Kieran, were grief-stricken by news of Mr Hickey's death and added: "My mum is absolutely devastated. Only a mother would know."
Mr Hickey's parents run a pub in the village of Thames Ditton, Surrey, where a community-based Website has set up an online book of support for the grieving couple.
Mr Shaw's sister, Joan Shivas, said of the Chechen government: "If they hadn't intervened things could have been different."