Lee Bradley Brown - Death in Dubai Police Custody
Lee Bradley Brown, 39 year old Briton 'beaten to death' in a Dubai police cell after being arrested for swearing
“Bur Dubai is notorious for aggression, violence and forced confessions in Arabic. There’s violence from inmates, there’s violence from police,”
Radha Stirling, CEO @DetainedinDubai
A new inquest into the death of Lee Bradley Brown is taking place in the British Coroners Court in January 2022. Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai was telephoned from the prison ten years ago by a fellow inmate who witnessed Lee's death.
Stirling tirelessly advocated for justice for the Brown family over the past ten years and is now submitting testimony to the Coroners Court.
If the United Arab Emirates really is the fun, safe oasis in the desert it is advertised to be, and which the Foreign Office assures travellers it is; Lee Bradley Brown would be celebrating his 50th birthday today, possibly fondly reminiscing about his vacation to Dubai ten years ago. Instead, Brown’s loved ones will mark the day in mourning, remembering a son, brother, and friend who was brutally killed in an Emirates jail at the age of 39.
Lee Bradley Brown was born in East London on June 18th, 1971 and grew up in Devon. In 2011, like thousands of British citizens, he decided to take a holiday in Dubai. He stayed at the luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel, but had an altercation with a hotel maid that landed him in detention at the Bur Dubai Police Station on charges of using abusive language. Soon afterwards, Brown was dead. The exact circumstances of his death in custody are unknown to this day, with police claiming first that he was assaulted by fellow inmates, and then that his fatal injuries were self-inflicted. CCTV footage of what happened has never been released.
Detained in Dubai founder, Radha Stirling, was contacted by cellmates who witnessed the tragedy and who insisted he died as a result of police brutality but the UAE have refused to cooperate with any investigations into the incident.
In an interview with ITV DayBreak in April 2011, Stirling said “Bur Dubai is notorious for aggression, violence and forced confessions in Arabic. There’s violence from inmates, there’s violence from police”.
“Lee would have celebrated his 50th birthday today”, said Stirling, reflecting on Lee’s death. “Again, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family. This should never have happened and the UAE should have come under more diplomatic pressure than they did. The British government, in essence, let the UAE get away with their abuse. In doing so, they gave authorities the green light to commit further abuses against British citizens and we continually see evidence of this.
“FCO warnings to travellers to the UAE remain almost unchanged in the 10 years since Lee’s death; despite countless other incidents of abuse, wrongful arrest, torture, and unlawful detention. Like so many others, Lee did nothing wrong, certainly nothing that warranted his arrest; but the FCO does not warn citizens that they can be detained and indeed convicted in the UAE for literally no reason at all. The justice system in the Emirates is abysmal, with no evidentiary standards, no semblance of due process, and routine torture of suspects to extract false confessions. All of this is essentially being co-signed by the Foreign Office if they continue to leave Britons in the dark about the grave risks they face in the UAE.
“Lee Bradley Brown’s death was tragic, the cover-up over what actually happened is criminal, and the FCO’s refusal to adequately inform British citizens about the dangers of traveling to the UAE is negligent and shameful. Since his death we have seen numerous cases of British nationals both wrongfully accused and tortured in the Emirates. Matthew Hedges was ludicrously accused of espionage over a PhD thesis and kept in solitary confinement; Andy Neal was jailed on false allegations for over a year and psychologically abused; and we now have Albert Douglas arrested for crimes he did not commit, beaten and tortured by police. Yet, the FCO refuses to acknowledge how drastically unsafe the UAE is for foreigners.
“10 years after a British citizen was killed in Dubai police custody, with case after case of abuse over the intervening decade, the British government still allows the UAE to promote a false image of itself and lure tourists, just as Lee Bradley Brown was lured, and the Foreign Office just pretends that everything is fine. Lee and his loved ones deserve better than this”.
Watch Radha Stirling's ITV Daybreak interview on Lee Bradley Brown
Radha Stirling has been tirelessly campaigning for increased travel warnings and even sanctions against the UAE for repeated human rights violations. Baroness Whitaker, Andy Slaughter, MP and a group of parliamentarians are now in full support of Detained in Dubai's campaign to secure the safety of British nationals abroad.
Bid to move British inmates from Bur Dubai station after tourist death claim
Four British prisoners 'traumatised' in Dubai police station where it is claimed Lee Bradley Brown was beaten to death, 17 April 2011.
Radha Stirling, of the Detained In Dubai charity, said talks were continuing about moving the Britons to a "safer place" while a Foreign Office spokesman confirmed they had "made a number of requests" to the Dubai authorities. Among them is the need for a "fair and proper" investigation into the death of Brown, 39, from Ilford, Essex. Dubai police maintain Brown's body had no signs of bruising or evidence of assault when he died last Monday. They claim he suffocated on his vomit in his cell.
Watch Channel 5 News with Radha Stirling on the death of Lee Bradley Brown
Radha Stirling has been talking about Lee Bradley Brown for over ten years, raising the case at every opportunity, to politicians, media and would be investors in the UAE.
"This is not something that can be swept under the rug. Lee's death and the UAE's circumvention of accountability is precedent setting. It has basically approved the UAE to torture, beat and violate foreigner's rights with impunity and they continue to do so
The Inquest into Lee's death must yield results", - Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai
Briton 'beaten to death' in a Dubai police cell after being arrested for swearing - Daily Mail
Radha Stirling working on the Lee Bradley Brown case in London, April 2011.
Lee's death shocked Britain and although the British government and courts demanded to see the CCTV footage, the UAE withdrew their offer to share it.
14 April 2011: Radha Stirling, founder of UK-based charity Detained in Dubai, said she hoped a full inquiry will be carried out.
‘Police stations in Dubai are notoriously brutal and the one that this poor man was in is by far the worst,’ she said.
‘I have never come across any allegations as serious as this.
‘Cells are usually covered in human faeces and can contain up to 20 prisoners in each one. Most will be forced to sleep on the floor.
‘They are often denied the basic rights you would expect in a police station.
‘You have to remember that these people have not even been found guilty in a court of law.’
BBC Radio 5 Interview with Radha Stirling on the death of Lee Bradley Brown
“Nearly all of the time our support gets them home safely, provided we are contacted in time.
Sometimes we are not approached until it is too late, such as with Lee Bradley Brown, a Brit jailed for allegedly being rude to a maid in his hotel. Lee died while in custody, reportedly beaten to death by police in the infamous Bur Dubai police station" - Radha Stirling
BBC Radio 4 Interview with Radha Stirling on Lee Bradley Brown's death in custody
Facebook Group - Justice for Lee
Radha Stirling started a Facebook campaign group called Justice for Lee Bradley Brown - Murdered by Cops in Dubai.
The best that we can do for Lee Bradley Brown is to hold the UAE to account. We can not continue to allow the UAE to torture, beat and abuse our citizens in return for financial investments into our country.
The British government is failing to protect citizens and the FCDO is actually refusing to even warn potential travelers that they could be arbitrarily detained which could result in brutality, even death.
Dead in Dubai: The Story of Lee Bradley Brown — True Crime Diva
At the time of Brown’s arrest, four other British tourists were imprisoned at Bur Dubai Police Station. British embassy officials visited the men on April 14, two days after Brown’s death, to interview them among fears they were in danger of retaliation following reports they had snitched on officers for Brown’s alleged beating.
One of the prisoners telephoned Brown’s sister and told her that Dubai police officers had assaulted Brown and threw him against a concrete wall, causing a head fracture. Brown’s family subsequently contacted the British Embassy in Dubai with concerns about his safety. Dubai police have denied assaulting and torturing Brown.
Several foreigners have been arrested in the UAE for stupid and downright ridiculous reasons, including calling someone a name on Facebook, holding hands in public, drinking on an airplane, and wearing a Qatar soccer shirt. Police can also arrest foreigners if an Arab accuses them of a crime. Many laws in the UAE are based on Sharia Law.
In July 2018, another tourist, Dr. Ellie Holman from the UK, drank a glass of wine on an Emirates Airline flight to Dubai. When the plane landed, a disagreement over her visa escalated between Holman and an immigration official, who asked if she had been drinking. Holman said she drank a complimentary glass of wine on the plane.
At the time, possession of alcohol was illegal in the UAE; even when consumed, the immigration official told her, and the police arrested her. Last year, the UAE announced it was no longer illegal to consume alcohol due to a significant overhaul of the legal system.
Holman said her jail cell was “filthy and hot,” and she did not sleep for three days because she feared the guards would rape her.
Thousands of dollars later, and with the help of an organization called Detained in Dubai, Holman was released and returned home.
Radha Stirling established the organization, Detained in Dubai in 2008. Since then, she has helped thousands of foreigners who were arrested for minor crimes in the UAE.
The group’s mission, per its website, “is to ensure the security of foreign nationals in the Gulf from unjust detention, wrongful prosecution, and all other violations of their human rights; and to promote reforms in the region that will contribute to the stability of the lives and interests of the expats who reside there.”
Stirling told Business Insider in 2019, “People are convicted every day in cases that would be instantly thrown out of a Western court either for lack of evidence, improper procedure, or for just being frivolous.”
Torture in the Emirates
Lady Whitaker and Andy Slaughter, MP have voiced their serious concerns to the Foreign Office over the UAE’s treatment of British grandfather, Albert Douglas. In fact, they’ve even suggested sanctions may be needed to protect UK citizens abroad. “This is not the first time and it’s appalling that we are back here again”, said Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, who has been working with the British government to help Albert.
“Dominic Raab, MP, the UK’s former Foreign Minister, publicly stated that sanctions were not ‘off the table’ as the UAE continued to detain Matthew Hedges, alleging he was a spy. Hedges has since taken legal action in the UK against his torturers.
What’s even more appalling is the Hedges torture was not the first instance either. It seems that we have come to accept that the Emirates will torture foreign nationals”, Stirling continued.
“British courts refuse to extradite to the UAE based on the ‘real risk of human rights violations and torture’, and yet the British government has failed to warn citizens on the FCO travel advisory website. Moreover, business, trade, commerce, security, arts and education projects are actively promoted by the British government. It beggars belief.
“In the 13.5 years of operating Detained in Dubai, I have come to know dozens of UAE torture victims. 22 year old Lee Bradley Brown was killed by police while in detention. I was telephoned by horrified witnesses to this egregious crime, but what were the consequences for Dubai? It was a little awkward for them, that’s all.
“Karam al Sadeq and Jihad Quzma are both suing for their torture in a Ras Al Khaimah prison.
“Artur Ligeska wrote a best seller covering the abuse, rape and torture he suffered in an Abu Dhabi jail, all because a powerful Sheikh wanted him locked up. The extent of Artur’s suffering is atrocious. He required extensive medical assistance following his release.
“Lee Bradley Brown was killed almost a decade ago and, with minimal consequences for the UAE, it is hardly surprising that British nationals are still being tortured. It is our government’s lack of a strong response, that has shown the UAE that they can in fact, torture our citizens with impunity.
“Of course it doesn’t stop at torture. Sheikha Shamsa was kidnapped from British soil. Princess Latifa and Captain Hervé Jaubert were kidnapped from international waters. Innocent targets have been wrongfully listed on Interpol’s database to extort, threaten or extradite them.
“It is completely reasonable that the Baroness push the FCO for increased travel warnings and sanctions. The FCO owes a duty of care to both warn and protect their citizens.”
From drinking wine on a plane, to calling someone a 'horse' on Facebook: Here are 5 times Westerners got in trouble with Dubai's strict legal system
Dubai is often held up as a haven of liberal Western values in the Middle East, but its laws are often surprisingly strict. The United Arab Emirates attracts millions of tourists and expats as a supposed haven of liberal Western values in the Middle East.
Radha Stirling helps many of these foreigners with her NGO Detained in Dubai. She told Business Insider that foreigners often don't appreciate the risk they are taking when traveling to Dubai.
"People are convicted every day in cases that would be instantly thrown out of a Western court either for lack of evidence, improper procedure, or for just being frivolous," she said.
There have been several high profile cases of Westerners claiming unfair imprisonment in recent years. Here are just a handful of examples.
In March, British mother Laleh Shahravresh was arrested for calling her ex-husband's new wife a "horse" in a Facebook comment, according to Detained in Dubai.
Stirling, the CEO of Detained in Dubai, said the organization was relieved that Shahravresh could return to her daughter, but that the case set a dangerous precedent.
"Anyone exercising their freedom of speech, who lives in, visits, or indeed, who may ever step foot in the UAE is at risk," she said in a statement.
In January, security personnel attacked Ali Issa Ahmad for wearing a Qatari jersey to a soccer match in the UAE, campaigners said.
Ahmad was locked up in Sharjah, a city that forms part of the greater Dubai metropolitan area. Sharjah has an especially problematic human rights record, according to Detained in Dubai.
British war veteran Andy Neal has been locked up in the UAE on false drug charges since October 2018, according to campaigners. Neal was fully exonerated after more than a year in prison.
Dr. Ellie Holman was detained for drinking a glass of wine on an Emirates Airline flight to Dubai in July 2018.
The official replied that the possession of alcohol is illegal in the UAE, even if the drink is already in someone's body, according to Detained in Dubai.
Dr. Holman, who lives in the UK, and her four-year-old daughter were put in a cell, which she said was filthy and hot. She claims did not sleep the three days while in the cell for fear of being raped by guards.
Matthew Hedges, a British PhD student, was jailed in May 2018 for spying in the UAE when he traveled to the country to research his doctoral thesis on national security.
He was forced to sign a false confession in Arabic, locked up in solitary confinement, and sentenced to life in jail, Detained in Dubai said.
Brit jailed in Dubai hospitalised for dislocated shoulder 'after prison beating' - Sept. 2021, The Mirror
A British national has been admitted to a Dubai hospital for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder sustained in prison, after being incarcerated over bounced cheques he didn’t write.
Earlier this year, Albert's son claimed his father has been "beaten" and "tortured" in the Bur Dubai prison where he has been serving his time.
And now, according to Detained in Dubai reports , a doctor has finally seen Albert, who was said to have been suffering from a dislocated shoulder for several months.
The Brit has reportedly been beaten by prison guards, denied his heart medication and forced to suffer inhumane conditions, including drinking from a toilet.
He had also been interrogated and threatened, as well as suffering attempts to force him to confess to a crime that his family claim has not committed.
Wolfgang, whose family splits their time between London and Retford, Nottinghamshire, claims his father has been beaten and subjected to human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates.
He alleges: "The jails over there are not like the jails here. Torture is Monday for them.
The family begged the Foreign Office for help, but Wolfgang claimed they had done “less than nothing”.
More than 1,500 people have signed an online petition titled "Free Albert Douglas from Dubai jail".
In addition to petitioning the Government and MPs to intervene in Mr Douglas' case, his family have hired a human rights specialist from Detained in Dubai, a group which has helped a number of Brits jailed in the emirate and their families.
According to Detained in Dubai, Dubai officials had confirmed the cheque was not his, seven months after his arrest, but he remained in prison.
Visit the #FreeAlbert website to hear telephone voice recordings from prison, podcasts and news
British football coach ‘tortured’ in brutal Dubai prison after 25-year sentence for CBD oil
Billy Hood, A British football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai over possession of CBD vape liquid is being “tortured” in prison, a friend of his has alleged. Click here to learn more about Billy's case.
adha Stirling, founder and CEO of pressure group Detained in Dubai, which is helping the Hood family, said that forced and coerced confessions are common in Dubai.
She described his treatment and sentence as “extreme” for “having an oil that can’t even get you high”.
Petition: Review and enhance FCDO foreign travel advice for the United Arab Emirates
The Government should review and enhance warnings in foreign travel advice for the United Arab Emirates, so British citizens can make informed decisions about traveling to or living in the Emirates.