10:21am Wednesday 21st March 2012
By Rachel Ryan
THE family of an Ulverston woman released from captivity have told of their joy at her release.
Judith Tebbutt, 56, was kidnapped last September after a raid at a Kenyan beach cottage in which she was staying with her husband David, who was shot dead in the attack.
The Foreign Office told the Gazette this afternoon that she arrived in Nairobi this afternoon and had been reunited with her son.
A close member of Mrs Tebbutt’s family has spoken of her relief and happiness at her release: “We are very happy about her release and we are so relieved. We don’t know much at the moment but we know that she is meeting her son in Nairobi today.”
Somali pirate Bile Hussein and Mohammed Hussein, an official with the militia Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama, said Mrs Tebbutt was released by pirate captors and is expected to be flown to Nairobi.
She is expected to be flown back to the UK to be reunited with friends and relatives.
It is believed that a ransom was paid for her release.
Judith Tebbutt told ITV: "I'm very relieved to have been released. Seven months is a long time and under the circumstances, with my husband passing away, made it harder."
The Foreign Office has told The Westmorland Gazette that Mrs Tebbutt was this morning on an aeroplane from Somalia to Nairobi.
Mrs Tebbutt, a former Victorian High School pupil, was last seen being bundled in a speed boat after being taken from the Kiwayu Safari Village, a luxury resort on a deserted stretch of Kenyan coastline.
The couple's son Oliver declined to comment today but a friend of Mr Tebbutt said it was "wonderful news".
The Tebbutts, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, had arrived at the safari village after visiting the Masai Mara game reserve and were the resort's only guests.
Mr Tebbutt worked for publisher Faber & Faber and was a member of the Book Trade Charity, which offers support and grants to those in the book trade.
Chief executive David Hicks, who knew him for 15 years, said: "This sounds wonderful, though I'll only really be happy when it's definite that she's safe."
Local MP Richard Harrington, from Watford, told Sky News: "Our thoughts are with Oliver, who must have such feelings today. Under the circumstances, he's done absolutely fantastically. I think he's conducted himself for one so young so extremely well, and I do nothing other than just commend him."
Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "We can confirm that she has been released. Our priority now is to get her to a place of safety. We will have more to say about that shortly.
We are standing by to provide consular care as soon as she arrives in Nairobi."
The spokesman said that Mrs Tebbutt's case had been discussed at 20 meetings of the Government's Cobra emergency committee during her captivity.
Asked whether the Government was aware of a ransom being paid, the spokesman said: "Our position is that we do not pay ransoms and we do not facilitate concessions to hostage-takers."
Asked whether officials had advised the family not to pay a ransom, he replied: "All I can say is that we have been in close contact throughout. We have obviously been providing support to the family and been in close contact with the family throughout and have been meeting regularly to discuss the case."
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