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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Free! Perry Coppins, Brit cancer victim detained in Dubai freed after media campaign by British NGO

Perry Coppins, the 61 year old British national facing years in jail after being arrested for carrying what a customs official thought were illegal amounts of his prescription medications at Fujairah seaport, has been freed after a worldwide media campaign launched by Detained In Dubai.

After his arrest, Perry spent 5 weeks in Dubai prison where he was detained without medical supervision while he went through a very dangerous, unsupervised detoxification process, because the customs officials had confiscated the pills he needs everyday. His mental and physical health have deteriorated in the intervening weeks, causing severe pain and anxiety. Mr Coppins had been on these medications all his adult life.

The withdrawal was so aggressive that it caused intermittent blindness and hallucinations for Perry. Despite his obvious distress, Mr Coppins says that his hands and feet were shackled and he was chained to wheelchairs while in detention in Dubai prison.

Perry was facing years in jail for his prescribed medicines, although they are perfectly legal in the UAE with prescriptions. Nobody would listen when he explained to police that he needed to carry a sufficient quantity to sustain him for a 6 month sea voyage.

Mr. Coppins found himself in a very difficult position once freed from prison. He was on the streets of Dubai with very little money and still suffering the after effects of the withdrawal process. He contacted Detained in Dubai, the UK Legal group who have worked in situations similar to this in the past. Mr Coppins case was immediately taken on by Detained in Dubai's CEO Radha Stirling.

Stirling and her team quickly initiated a worldwide press and social media campaign. This prompted the UK FCO to contact Dubai police who have returned Mr Coppins passport and dropped the charges against him. A local seafarers charity has kindly offered to pay his passage home.

Perry is now free to travel back to the UK, although he has used every penny of his savings in legal expenses and living in the expensive city while waiting for trial. His friends and family hope it is in time to get the treatment Perry needs for his cancer treatment.

Radha Stirling released the following statement: "We welcome the decision by Dubai authorities to take the humane and sensible course with Perry. This case should never have escalated to the point of criminal charges, but without the scrutiny of the international media, it is unlikely that Perry would be a free man tonight. In the absence of such attention, what was essentially a misjudgment by one customs official turned into a literally life-threatening situation for Perry.

“We advise caution to all visitors, including those transiting through the UAE to utilise caution when doing so. As we have seen in many cases recently, such as Asa Hutchinson, who was merely in the vicinity of an alleged crime, even if someone has not broken the law, they can still find themselves facing prosecution."

UAE Criminal and Civil Justice Specialists. Contact us on

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