UK Government need to redouble efforts to bring Cardiff man home

Arms Trade: Yemen
20th April 2021

Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West

I want to take this opportunity to remind colleagues of the human consequences that the arms trade and conflict in Yemen can have on people. Four years ago, in April 2017, my constituent Luke Symons was stopped at a Houthi checkpoint in Sana’a and detained. He has been held in prison ever since for no reason other than that he holds a British passport.

Luke’s is a very typical Cardiff story in many ways. The rapid growth of Cardiff as a coal exporting port in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought many Yemeni and Somali sailors to the city. Luke comes from one of those Cardiff Yemeni families who still have relations in the country. On a visit to Yemen in 2014, he met his future wife and settled there before the conflict broke out. They desperately tried to leave, but were unsuccessful before Luke was detained.

I appeal to the UK Government to redouble the efforts they have already made to secure Luke’s release and secure safe passage for him and his wife and child to the UK. I thank the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, for their efforts so far.

I also appeal to Luke’s Houthi captors, during this holy month of Ramadan, to release him. His grandfather, Bob Cummings, who has a deep and abiding love for the people of Yemen and the middle east from his time as a merchant seaman, has campaigned tirelessly for Luke’s release. Luke’s grandmother, Sheila, who played a big part in his upbringing, is very ill and deeply worried about his welfare. It would be an act of mercy and compassion and would show the Houthi leadership in a good light if, after four years of this sad affair, that young man of 29 years, who is simply caught up in events and has committed no crime, could be reunited with his wife and child and wider family. That is the plea from the family to his Houthi captors, and I sincerely hope it will reach them and their hearts.