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Sunday, 26 November, 2000, 00:46 GMT
Cuba frees 'spying' Britons
SIP London offices
The men were allegedly working for SIP investigations
The seven Britons who have been held in Cuba for seven weeks on suspicion of spying have been released.

The Foreign Office said the six men and one women were free from detention and were preparing to return to the UK.

The men had allegedly been hired for an investigation into a case of adultery involving a Cuban national, for which they were using methods in breach of Cuban law.

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Scotland said: "We welcome the Cuban authorities' decision, following our requests to either charge or release the British detainees.

We welcome the Cuban authorities' decision

Baroness Scotland
Foreign Office Minister
The group were first detained on 9 October in Havana for using illegal hi-tech surveillance equipment.

The six men were all said to work for SIP Investigations, based in Snaresbrook, east London.

The woman was the girlfriend of one of the men.

Four of the men have been named as Ken Lodge, Jonathan Fawcett, Derek Pitt and Michele Lacorte.

An SIP spokesman said the company was delighted that the men had been released.


Mr Lodge's mother, May, said she was "stunned" to hear of his release.

"I'm lost for words. That's all the news I wanted to hear," she said.

Mrs Lodge said she had not telephoned her son for a while but had posted a letter for him on Saturday morning.

That's all the news I wanted to hear.

May Lodge
"As far as I know he was kept in prison," she said. "When I spoke to him the first time he was OK and he said they were feeding him well."

She said she would be contacting the rest of her family to tell them the good news.

The group was initially denied access to British consular officials.

But the Cuban authorities eventually relented after the Cuban Charge d'Affaires, Oscar de los Reyes, met with Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain.

"In confirming their release the Cuban government told the British ambassador that the resolution of this matter was a tribute to the bilateral relationship and to the serious and sensitive way the matter had been handled by the British embassy in Havana," Baroness Scotland said.

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