Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Fight goes on for kidnapped Briton

By Peter Jackson
BBC News

Peter Moore
Peter Moore's relatives are meeting the prime minister on Thursday

The family of a British man kidnapped in Iraq is preparing to spend its second Christmas without him as efforts continue to secure his release.

On Friday, almost 19 months after Peter Moore and four other Britons were abducted, about 35 friends held a vigil at St Bride's Church in London's Fleet Street, saying his case needs a higher profile.

Mr Moore's stepmother Pauline Sweeney, and the families of the other captured men, are meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday.

She told BBC News: "There is an awful lot being done behind the scenes. We're privy to sensitive information we can't share.

"Although we're very touched by the vigil, we do reiterate please not to take things into your own hands no matter how well intentioned. It could jeopardise matters."

We were certainly well in the public eye... whether or not it speeded up our release I don't know, I don't think it slowed it down
Norman Kember
Former hostage in Iraq

She said the families have also had contact and support from former hostage Terry Waite.

Mr Moore, 32, was working as a technology consultant at the Ministry of Finance building in Baghdad when he and four other men were abducted on 29 May, 2007.

A tape, purporting to come from the kidnappers, has since alleged one of them, a man known as Jason, killed himself on 25 May 2008.

The names of the men held with Mr Moore have been withheld at the request of the Foreign Office.

In May friends who worked and travelled with the IT worker set up an internet blog plus a group on the social networking site Facebook.

Their campaigning website, For Pete's Sake, explained why.

"It is hoped that if more can be known about Pete and the ideals he represents, then pressure can be brought to bear upon those in a position to negotiate for his and his fellow captives release," it stated.

"Past experiences have shown that sustained campaigns for the release of hostages can produce results - Terry Waite and Alan Johnston for example."

Boredom

Mrs Sweeney, from Lincoln, said: "At this time of year it's particularly difficult, you have to try and remain positive and carry on for the family.

"You have good and bad days, something will remind you of him. At this time of year we'd be asking when we'd see him and about presents.

"He'll cope better than most... he's a very amiable chap who's done lots of volunteer work. People gravitate towards him, but after 19 months who's to say how anyone will be coping?

"He is someone that copes well, but it's the boredom and stuff like that that pulls you down."

British peace activist and former Iraqi hostage Norman Kember said his case had an enormous amount of publicity.

"I had weekly vigils in Trafalgar Square and in most cities in this country...so we were very high profile from that point of view," he told BBC News.

It's our policy when lives are at risk not to discuss the details... especially the personal details of those being held
Foreign Office spokesman

"Whether or not the Foreign Office liked it, I don't know, it plays everything very close to its chest and likes to work quietly behind the scenes.

"We were certainly well in the public eye. I can't say if that was a good thing, but it was a great support to my wife to feel there was this support for her.

"Whether or not it speeded up our release one second, I don't know, I don't think it slowed it down shall we say."

He said the Foreign Office's news blackout policy was "reasonable" as long as the relatives were kept well informed.

He added: "The families have to keep hoping. The current situation in Iraq is so much in flux that you don't know what is going to happen. You have to keep holding on."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We continue to do everything we can to try and secure the safe release of the hostages and our sympathy is with the families.

"We call on those holding British and other hostages to release them immediately and unconditionally so they can be reunited with their families and friends.

"It's our policy when lives are at risk not to discuss the details of cases such as these, especially the personal details of those being held."

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