Monday, 9 October 2017

British man facing Dubai jail ‘for putting hand on man’s hip’ appears in court

British man facing Dubai jail 'for putting hand on man's hip' appears in court

A Scottish man is facing three years in prison in the UAE for putting his hand on a man’s hip has appeared in court. Jamie Harron, a 27-year-old from Stirling, had been working in Afghanistan and was in Dubai for a two-day stopover. He has now appeared in court after being arrested for alleged public indecency and drinking alcohol at Rock Bottom Bar on July 15. Jamie and a friend had just bought their first drink, and were passing by a Jordanian man standing at the edge of the dance floor. As they passed by him on the crowded floor, Jamie placed his right hand side on the top of the man’s hip to stop them from bumping each other and avoid spillage, ‘in a move familiar to most UK patrons of crowded pubs’.

Although the man didn’t appear agitated at the time, he became very animated later on, and the police soon showed up outside.

The man, his friends and the police all spoke in Arabic while periodically pointing over at Jamie, with the accuser occasionally shouting in English: ‘He’s been drinking, and he touched me improperly, I will get you deported, do you know who I am?’ The police asked Jamie to apologise, which he ‘gladly did’, but the accuser was ‘not mollified’ and demanded that the officers arrest him. Campaign group Detained in Dubai said that, after his arrest, he was held for five days in al-Barsha prison, and was then released on bail after having his passport confiscated.

A spokesman for the group added: ‘Tourists [in the UAE] who consume alcohol at licensed venues can still be arrested for having alcohol in their system. ‘Most tourists are not aware of this fact. A number of British nationals have been caught out by this contradictory application of the law.’ He is said to have since lost his job, and has spent more than £30,000 in expenses and legal fees.

Jamie’s dad Graham, a caterer, said the family have been left devastated by the ordeal.

‘Patricia [Jamie’s mum] and I have not been able to relax for a moment. We never dreamed we would have to face something like this,’ he said. ‘We can’t believe that this nightmare has gone on for three months. Jamie is a good boy. He has never been a problem and never in trouble. ‘We are a very close family and it is killing us to think of him spending even three nights in jail, let alone three years.’

A further court appearance is expected in around two weeks, but no firm date has been set. Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said: ‘He’s concerned. He’s already been there three months. It seems to be never-ending for him and he’s frustrated.’ The Foreign Office says it’s providing consular assistance.

What does the law say about drinking in the UAE? Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor licence to drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. These licences are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues. Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs, but it is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi (although a Ministry of Tourism by-law allows hotels to serve alcohol only to those over 21), and 21 in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (except Sharjah, where drinking alcohol is illegal). Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested. Source:

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