The Coppins meet Jack Straw

BRITISH plane-spotters convicted of spying in Greece met with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw yesterday.Eleven of the spotters – including Paul and Lesley Coppin, from Mildenhall – travelled to London for the hour-long meeting, accompanied by MEPs Geoffrey Van Orden and Richard Howitt.

BRITISH plane-spotters convicted of spying in Greece met with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw yesterday.

Eleven of the spotters – including Paul and Lesley Coppin, from Mildenhall – travelled to London for the hour-long meeting, accompanied by MEPs Geoffrey Van Orden and Richard Howitt.

Mr Howitt described the meeting as "constructive" and said assurances had been sought and received about efforts the British government would make on the plane-spotters' behalf.

Another meeting with Mr Straw will be held when the spotters get a date for their appeal against convictions of illegally gathering information about the Greek airforce. Mr Coppin got a three-year jail sentence but was allowed home pending his appeal. His wife was given a suspended one year jail term.

Mr Howitt said Mr Straw had agreed to make representations to the Greeks about the location and timing of the appeal and offered practical support from the Foreign Office about getting transcripts of the trial and travel restrictions imposed because of their convictions lifted.

However, Paul Coppin said he was glad Jack Straw had agreed to meet them but said the hour-long session was not as productive as he had hoped it would be.

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He wants Mr Straw to put pressure on the Greek authorities to scrap the case completely but he said the Foreign Secretary said he was unable to interfere in the justice system of a fellow EU country.