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Tears and hugs as happy Lucy returns from her nightmare; SHE SIPS BUBBLY IN LUXURY BATH.

LUCY MCLAUCHLAN flew into the arms of her family and a tearful reunion yesterday.

She hugged and smothered husband Grant Ferrie with frantic kisses in an emotional meeting minutes after she stepped off a British Airways jet at Gatwick Airport.

They were then whisked by helicopter to meet her parents at one of Britain's swankiest hotels where she sipped champagne as she soaked in a luxurious bath.

The 32-year-old nurse had stepped from the darkness of her 17-month Saudi plight on Wednesday night.

Yet the realisation she was finally free did not hit her until she was served a meal on the plane after taking off from Dahran Airport.

She stared at her plate for a full five minutes before thinking: "This is unbelievable. It looks so good I don't want to eat it."

She also looked in disbelief at the metal knife and fork she was given.

She had forgotten what they looked like after almost a year and a half of using plastic prison cutlery.

After landing at Gatwick she was taken to the airport's Sussex Suite by Foreign Office officials where she was able to put her arms round her husband for the first time as a free woman.

Lucy and Grant Ferrie had wed in the jail, but hadn't dared to embrace at the time for fear of offending Islamic sensibilities.

The couple were then flown away by helicopter yesterday to meet her parents Stan and Ann, who had jetted south from their home in Dundee.

But first Lucy was taken on a sky tour of south London.

She was flown along the English south coast, seeing the White Cliffs of Dover - a traditional welcoming sight for all travellers returning to Blighty.

Dressed in jeans, a white jumper, trainers and with her hair tied back in a ponytail, Lucy then flew to meet up with Stan and Ann in a pounds 200-a- night suite at the posh Penny Hill Hotel at Bagshot, near Wentworth, Surrey.

Her mother wept as she was at last reunited with the daughter who, over a year and a half, she had been able to see only in a stinking Saudi jail.

It was a celebration the McLauchlans never stopped hoping for, but sometimes despaired of seeing.

Echoing the emotions of her former cell-mate last night, Deborah Parry said: "It is like a dream to be back. I just want to see everybody again.

"I think we first heard that we were getting out at about 11 o'clock at night. It was not broadcast on Saudi television.

"The next day somebody said it could be three or four days and then we heard we were going that night.

"I wasn't sure. I know Saudi - I thought it could be another 10 days.

"Once we were on the aeroplane I believed it."

Then she told of the torture which forced a confession from her to the murder.

She said: "It was the treatment by Dharan police - the violence and sexual abuse.

"They tried to burn my eyes with cigarettes. They were hitting me across the throat. At the end of about five days it was easier to say that I did it because the Embassy had been turned away until we confessed."

The pair are free to practice in nursing in Britain, the council which regulates the profession confirmed.

Although their convictions - secured after a lengthy and secret legal process - still stand, the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing (UKCC) is powerless to act unless it receives a formal complaint.

A spokesman said: "At present both are on the register and could be considered fit for practice."

If a nurse is prosecuted in Britain the UKCC is automatically informed by the Home Office.

It has the power to suspend nurses awaiting trial if it judges patients could be at risk, and if a nurse is convicted of a serious offence it can remove them from the register, barring them from working.

The spokesman said: "Our legal advice is that we cannot act in cases where the conviction is overseas, unless we receive a complaint."

He added that the UKCC was aware Lucy faces criminal proceedings in Scotland.

The Royal College of Nursing said Lucy was a member, but Parry was not.

A spokeswoman said: "We were involved in the case but took advice from the Foreign Office and kept it low key, but we were pushing for clemency.

"And when there were reports of them appearing in court manacled we put in a formal request for that to stop.

"We are sure their relatives will be thrilled they have now been released."
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Article Details
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Author:Russell, Jonathan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 22, 1998
Words:769
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