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Published: May 26, 2011
Risk management expert Pilgrims Group assisted the family of incarcerated ex-soldier Danny Fitzsimons attend their son’s trial in Iraq.
Accused of murder, Fitzsimons was being held in Iraq’s Karadt Mariam police station when his family lost hope of seeing their son.
When no other companies would assist, Pilgrims offered the Fitzsimons family a low cost solution that ensured their safety in Iraq by providing secure accommodation, transport to and from the airport and safe passage to and from the courthouse where their son was being held.
The family had not seen Fitzsimons since he flew to Iraq to work as a security contractor for another company in August 2009. They wanted to see their son before a verdict on the trial was reached but required security assistance to ensure their safety.
A campaign by the Fitzsimons family to bring Danny back to the UK, based on his history of mental health issues, had been ignored by the British Government, and requests for support from major security firms had hit a brick wall leaving them very few options.
A £9000 contribution had been made by the company that originally employed Fitzsimons to work in Iraq, but money alone was not sufficient for the family to make such a high profile trip. Specialist understanding of the city of Baghdad was required.
Bill Freear, Managing Director of Pilgrims, told The Independent newspaper that whilst he could not comment on the events that led to Fitzsimons’ imprisonment, he also recognised that Fitzsimons family were “completely innocent” and deserved assistance to see their son. He went on to say: “Whilst Pilgrims is not as large as some of the big private security companies, we have always operated in an ethical manner and have always been able to sleep at night.” He added that Pilgrims had the capability to help, and was pleased that they were able to do so.
The magnitude of Pilgrims’ involvement and specialist knowledge was clearly invaluable to Fitzsimons’ father, who was extremely grateful for their assistance. He told The Independent that “the trip had been emotional but really worthwhile.”
The Independent’s Senior News Reporter, Terri Judd, who accompanied the family to Iraq, commented: “At a time when the Fitzsimons family felt deserted by everyone else, I was struck by Bill Freear's generosity, integrity and perceptiveness in understanding that they too were victims in this terrible case.
"The security team in Baghdad was not only impressively professional but equally adept at keeping a family with no previous experience of hostile environments calm during a deeply sensitive and emotional trip."