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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2006, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Hostage wife speaks of her relief
Paula Smith with son Jordan
Mrs Smith said it was hard to explain the situation to her son
The wife of a kidnapped oil worker who had been feared dead has spoken of her relief following his release.

Paula Smith, whose husband Paul was one of four Scots held hostage in Nigeria, told how she had to explain the conflicting news to their young son.

She said she used the analogy of Disney's Lion King to explain the death to four-year-old Jordan but later had to say it had all been lies.

Mrs Smith revealed that her husband told her he would be home on Monday.

Mr Smith, from Peterhead, Graeme Buchan, from Stuartfield, George Mclean, from Elgin and Sandy Cruden, from Inverurie, were released after almost three weeks as hostages on the Niger Delta.

I couldn't believe it. When I heard his voice I said 'Paul, tell me it's you'
Paula Smith

They were kidnapped along with another three oil workers from Romania, Malaysia and Indonesia.

At a press conference Mrs Smith, who also has a two-year-old son, said that on Thursday she had been made aware of a telephone conversation in which it was claimed her husband was dead.

"It was absolutely horrendous," she said. "We had tried to keep things from the kids but the minute we heard he was dead I had to tell Jordan.

"I just told him about the Lion King when the dad dies but is up in heaven and that his dad would always be looking down on him.

"He just cuddled into me."

Phone call

Two days later she received a phone call from her husband.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "When I heard his voice I said 'Paul, tell me it's you'. He had to keep talking to me. I was hysterical.

"He said 'it's me. Calm down. I've been released'.

"I told him I'd been told he was dead and had told the kids and he said 'I'm here and I'm released and I'll be home in two days'.

"It was unbelievable. We had been grieving about him in the morning and going over memories. It was unbelievable, unbelievable."

John Smith
Over the last two weeks we have felt worry, grief and finally elation
John Smith

Mrs Smith said she had answered the phone herself for the first time in two days.

"I'm so glad it was me," she said.

She then had to explain the turnaround of events to Jordan.

"I had to tell him it was lies, that his dad will be home. How do you tell a four-year-old?"

Mrs Smith added that there was "no way" she would allow her husband to return to Nigeria.

Mr Smith's father John, said: "Over the last two weeks we have felt worry, grief and finally elation.

"Many people have experienced the first two but it's not often you get the third one in a situation like this and for that we are very thankful."

In a statement read out by SNP leader Alex Salmond, who represents the Banff and Buchan area, Mr Buchan's wife Lynsey said: "I would like to say how relieved and delighted I am that all the men are released and look forward enormously to their homecoming.

"It's been a very traumatic time for family and friends and everyone is looking forward to seeing Graeme again."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch the full media conference



SEE ALSO
Q&A: Nigeria's oil violence
05 Oct 06 |  Africa

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