Just a day after being sentenced to three months in a Dubai jail for a public indecency infringement, a holidaymaker from Scotland was released without further charges.
On Monday 28th October, Jamie Harron, from Stirling, was made aware that the case against him had been dropped. The dramatic U-turn only came about following a direct intervention from the United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
The support group Detained in Dubai, who have backed Harron since his arrest 3 months ago, said his passport was finally returned at the police station and he was informed he was free to leave.
The electrician, aged 27, was originally detained for public indecency following accusations of “touching a man’s hip” as he weaved his way through the crowded Rock Bottom Bar in July of this year. He claimed he was simply attempting to avoid spilling his drink as he brushed past another of the bar’s clientele.
A day before his release, Harron was sentenced to three months in prison for the charge and was told he would face further disciplinary action for drinking alcohol and swearing at the businessmen he brushed against.
Chief executive of the group Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, claimed Harron was “understandably nervous” when he was summoned by the police on Monday 28th, but was surprised to have his passport handed back to him and was advised he was free to go.
“The charges were dropped, the sentence annulled, and he faces no order for deportation. This came by direct order from Sheikh Mohammed.”
She went on to add: “We wish to express our deepest gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed for his personal intervention in this case, and for exonerating Jamie at long last. It has now been established that the allegations against Jamie were entirely unwarranted, defamatory and meritless, to such an extent that the ruler of the country found it necessary to step in and correct the wrongful action of the public prosecutor and to quash the judgment of the court.
Stirling described last week that the Scotsman had “suffered tremendously” following the ordeal. He has lost his job, is tackling with the prospect of losing his home, and is now grappling with legal fees. He was held in prison for five days after the alleged incident and has been unable to see family without them facing imprisonment themselves.
The UK government estimates that roughly one and a half million Brits travel to the UAE every year, with Dubai becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination.
The Government, however, has warned travellers to the Middle East that laws and customs can vary hugely from those in place in the UK, with major penalties a distinct possibility for any wrong doing.
Common occurrences in the UK such as sex outside of marriage, public displays of affection, consumption of alcohol and being under the influence in public places are all punishable with arrests and varying degrees of fines and imprisonment.