SEVEN men have been arrested in connection with the escape of a prison inmate who was on remand charged with murder.

John Anslow 32, of Tipton, West Midlands, has been at large since a prison van transporting him to court was ambushed by masked offenders near HMP Hewell in Redditch in January last year.

The men, whose ages have not been released, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to assist in his escape. He is wanted over the 2010 murder of Richard Deakin in Chasetown, Staffordshire.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said: "Seven men were arrested this morning in connection with the prison escort van escape of John Anslow.

"All of the men have been taken to police stations in West Mercia."

Two of the arrests were made in Birmingham, two in Dudley, and one in Redditch.

The two remaining suspects were already in custody at the time of their arrest, the police spokesman added.

Staffordshire Police, which is heading the hunt to locate Anslow, has said officers are keeping an open mind about whether he remains in the UK or has travelled abroad.

A £10,000 reward remains on offer for anyone who can supply Staffordshire Police with information that leads to Anslow's arrest and return to prison.