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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 December 2007, 20:57 GMT
UK peers visit teddy row teacher
Baroness Warsi and Lord Ahmed
Baroness Warsi and Lord Ahmed could help resolve the crisis

Two British Muslim peers have met the UK teacher jailed for 15 days in Sudan for insulting Islam by allowing her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gillian Gibbons, of Liverpool, has also released a statement through her lawyer saying: "I've been well treated."

Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi have already met officials and ministers and are expected to meet the president on Sunday, the BBC's Adam Mynott says.

The peers plan to press their case to have Mrs Gibbons, 54, pardoned.

Labour Lord Ahmed and Conservative Baroness Warsi said Mrs Gibbons was in good spirits during their meeting early Saturday.

'Secure and comfortable'

Mrs Gibbons is being held in secret due to fears for her safety after crowds of protesters marched in the capital demanding a tougher sentence, some of whom called for the death penalty.

Gillian Gibbons
Mrs Gibbons allowed her class to name the teddy bear Muhammad

In the statement released through her lawyer to Channel 4 News - Mrs Gibbons's first public comment since her arrest - she said she was well and also thanked Prime Minister Gordon Brown for telephoning her family in the UK to offer his support.

"I'm fine. I'm well," Mrs Gibbons said.

"I want people to know I've been well treated, and especially that I'm well fed. I've been given so many apples I feel I could set up my own stall. The guards are constantly asking if I have everything I need."

After their meetings, Baroness Warsi told the BBC that their mission had "one agenda and that is to secure the early release of Gillian Gibbons and that is the only purpose".

Lord Ahmed said the pair relayed their message to Sudanese officials: "What we have done is very much put our case to the ministers and we've said how this is perceived in the west."

The Foreign Office said their officials had also spent an hour and a half with Mrs Gibbons and said she was now being held in a "more comfortable and secure environment".

Mrs Gibbons' lawyer told the BBC that he had advised his client not to appeal the verdict or the sentence "for practical and not legal reasons" and she had accepted his advice.

Sources close to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir believe there will be more chance of securing Mrs Gibbons release through a Muslim-led delegation than through the Foreign Office's diplomacy efforts.

'Strong concern'

The Foreign Office has stressed that the visit by the two members of the House of Lords is separate to its ongoing work to get Mrs Gibbons freed.

But it said that it was offering all possible support to the peers, who were accompanied in their meetings by Britain's ambassador to Sudan.

Protesters in Khartoum, Sudan
Crowds have marched in Khartoum demanding a tougher sentence

"We are pleased that they have been able to convey the views of British Muslims and wider British society to the Sudanese authorities," a spokesman said.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke with the acting Sudanese foreign secretary again late on Friday and reiterated Britain's "very strong concern" at Mrs Gibbons's continued detention.

Meanwhile, Mrs Gibbons's son and daughter were able to speak to their mother on the phone on Friday.

John Gibbons, 27, from Liverpool, told Associated Press his mother was "holding up quite well" and did not want the situation to spark "resentment" towards Muslims or the Sudanese people.

"You know, that's not the type of person she is, that's not what she wants," he added.

In September, Mrs Gibbons allowed her class of primary school pupils to name the teddy bear Muhammad as part of a study of animals and their habitats.

The court heard that she was arrested last Sunday after another member of staff at Unity High School complained to the Ministry of Education.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Protests on the streets of Sudan's capital, Khartoum



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