A FORMER arms dealer from Scarborough has backed a plan to make a film based on his account of the botched arms drop which led to him spending eight years in an Indian jail.
Peter Bleach, who lives in South Cliff, was sentenced to life in jail for his involvement in the infamous Purulia arms drop - which saw four tonnes of Kalashnikov rifles, sniper rifles, anti-tank grenades, RPG rocket-launchers, mines and ammunition dropped over West Bengal in December 1995.
Mr Bleach, a former army intelligence officer, has always protested his innocence, saying that the British security services had full knowledge of the arms drop.
He returned to Scarborough after he was granted a presidential pardon and released from jail, following pressure from Tony Blair’s government in 2004.
Now he has thrown his weight behind a plan by an Indian writer to bring his side of the story to the big screen.
Shachi Sanjay Sharma, who contacted Mr Bleach from Mumbai after reading an Evening News article online, has now launched an appeal for funding so that a team from India can visit Peter in Scarborough and produce a screenplay.
Shachi claims that several high-profile studios are already interested in the project, which has the working title of The Mastermind and tagline ‘The only mistake he made... he played by the rules’.
Mr Bleach said yesterday: “I’m really keen to support it and I’m excited about working with Indian people. It is an Indian story after all. We’ve been chatting a bit on Skype which can be a bit restrictive, but I’ve done my research and these people are good at what they do.
“The only drawback is that the story isn’t quite done yet. Who knows what’s going to come out? You never know - we could get a sequel!”
Around 10 per cent of the $5,000 funding goal has been raised already. Shachi and co-writer Rikhil Bahadur hope to spend around 10 days in Scarborough to research the background to the case and meet with Mr Bleach.
Shachi added: “One way or another, we are 100 per cent committed to making this film happen.
“I am very glad that we are working with Peter Bleach with his full support to adopt this enthralling story into an even more exciting feature film.”
The Indian team has also appealed for anyone who can help with accommodation in Scarborough to get in touch.
The arms drop which saw Mr Bleach jailed created international headlines, after the cargo missed its intended target and was discovered by poverty-stricken villagers.
It had been organised by Danish citizen Kim Davy, who had approached Peter and asked him to supply the weapons.
Mr Bleach says he was instructed to carry on with the arms drop by security services, believing he was involved in a sting-operation which would have seen the terrorists that ordered the weapons captured.
But he was arrested in the days following the arms drop after the plane he had commissioned passed back through India.
He could have been sentenced to death after he was found guilty of waging war against the Indian state following a three-year trial.
After his pardon he returned to Scarborough, where he grew up in the late 1950s and ‘60s.
He worked as an army intelligence officer in Northern Ireland, a paramilitary prison officer and gold mine security guard in Rhodesia before moving back to Britain and working as a private investigator. Mr Bleach moved into the arms trade in the early 1990s.