The life of a man, currently languishing on death row, could be saved by revelations in the memoirs of Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf.

Omar Sheikh (right) of Deyncourt Gardens, Wanstead was sentenced to death in Pakistan in July 2002 for involvement in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

In his recently-published memoirs, In the Line of Fire, the general appears to exonerate the former Forest schoolboy of involvement in the murder raising hopes that an appeal against his conviction may be successful.

Mr Sheikh's father Saeed, who travelled to Pakistan yesterday, has always flatly denied that his son had any involvement in either the abduction or the murder of the washington Post journalist.

He said: "It's further evidence that all the accusations against him are false. It's contradictory in so many places. My son is not the character that has been portrayed in the media and he's certainly not a murderer."

Mr Pearl was kidnapped in January 2002, and General Musharraf says that Mr Sheikh became desperate' after Pakistani authorities arrested members of his family in their search for him.

The general said: "He phoned an accomplice in Karachi named Hussein and told him to release Daniel Pearl.

"He claimed he was then told that Daniel Pearl had been killed."

At this point, Mr Sheikh handed himself in. The general wrote: "He didn't realise that the people he had enlisted to help in the kidnapping were hardcore criminals who wouldn't necessarily take instructions from him."

General Musharraf names 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad as the man who may have actually carried out the beheading of Pearl - posted in all its gruesome details on the internet.

The Foreign Office is currently lobbying the general to commute a death sentence hanging over another Briton on death row and hope that he might intervene in Mr Sheikh's case.

A spokesman said: "Since we first heard about his arrest we have been lobbying the Pakistani authorities to allow us consular access to Mr Sheikh. We know that Mr Sheikh is facing the death penalty as well so we will look to make representations in any way we can."

Last month the Foreign Office said, in a reply to Wanstead MP Harry Cohen, that they were still seeking permission to visit Mr Sheikh in jail.

They told the Guardian: "Despite his dual nationality, they are treating him solely as a Pakistani national and we don't have any involvement, but we still wish to provide consular assistance."

By Dominic Yeatman