Scot facing three years in Dubai jail for ‘touching man’s hip’

Jamie Harron, who is from Stirling, is being detained in Dubai. Picture: SWNS
Jamie Harron, who is from Stirling, is being detained in Dubai. Picture: SWNS
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A SCOT is facing three years in a Dubai jail after he touched a man’s hip while trying to avoid spilling his drink in a crowded bar.

The “cultural misunderstanding” has left Jamie Harron stuck in Dubai for three months facing jail, jobless and in huge amounts of debt.

Jamie, 27, has spent over £32,000 in expenses and legal fees trying to resolve the matter while he was also been stripped of his documents.

The electrician, who is from Stirling, was in Dubai on a two-day stopover as he was flying back to work in Afghanistan.

He has been held in the UAE since July 15 on two charges of drinking alcohol and public indecency.

And his family is growing increasingly worried about getting him back home after his passport was seized when he was released on bail.

The drama unfolded when Jamie had a drink with friends at the Rock Bottom Bar in Dubai -- a popular venue for young people in the Tecom area of the city.

Jamie and his friend had bought their first drink in the crowded bar when he placed his hand on the hip of man to ensure they didn’t bump and spill their drinks.

Police turned up and arrested Jamie who says he was jailed with no idea of the charge.

He said a prosecutor later told him that he had been charged with drinking alcohol and “public indecency.”

Jamie denies this latter charge, claiming his only intention was to avoid spilling a drink.

But tourists who consume alcohol at licensed venues in Dubai can still be arrested for having alcohol in their system.

Most visitors are not aware of this fact and a number of British nationals have been caught out by this contradictory application of the law.

Since the initial arrest, Jamie has been sacked from his job in Afghanistan and is now relying on charity from friends for accommodation.

He was due to attend court on Sunday but says the meeting was held in private without his lawyers being informed.

He said: “I am really stunned that it has gone that far.

“I have witnesses who are willing to present themselves in court, even the bouncer at the bar.

“I cannot believe I am facing these allegations when I followed the laws in their entirety.

“Now it is possible that I will be arrested on Sunday for failing to appear at a court hearing that neither I nor my lawyer, were advised of.”

After being arrested, Jamie was held in the notorious Al Barsha prison, where he claims he was not allowed to wash himself or brush his teeth.

He said he was left in a “foul smelling” cell with another eight nationalities sleeping on the floor with “one revolting mattress between them all.”

Jamie was bailed, but his passport was confiscated so that he could not leave the country.

He claims he missed the “secret hearing” because he didn’t know anything about it.

Jamie added: “Of course if I had known there was a change in the court date, I would have been there.

“I have been waiting for months to appear and now it looks as though I will be

arrested when I go to the hearing.

“It is completely unfair and I can’t understand how I can be sentenced for failing to appear when I was not even informed of the hearing.”

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained In Dubai, the British based NGO who is leading the campaign to help him, said: “Jamie is under immense pressure and stress.

“Jamie has been advised by his lawyer that he is at high risk of being jailed for a duration of up to three years.

“It is quite outrageous that he has been held in the country for so long already.

“This is another example of how vulnerable tourists are to arrest and detention in Dubai and at how drawn out and disorganised legal proceedings are.

“We have received a wave of new cases of British nationals detained in Dubai and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office need to increase travel warnings to citizens intending to visit or live in the country.

“If Jamie is sentenced to prison, he faces human rights violations and torture.

“The English High Court has ruled against extradition to the UAE based on the ‘very real risk of unfair trials and torture’ but the UK government has refused to increase warnings, largely due to their financial and diplomatic ties with the UAE.”