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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Ian Mackellar 'relieved after release from Dubai'

Family excited for Ian Mackellar's return to Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Ian Mackellar and his family have been dreading a gruelling drawn out court process that could have resulted in his lengthy incarceration.

Shortly after the New Year’s Eve incident, Ian’s family contacted the organisation, Detained in Dubai, explaininsg that he had been charged with trespass after requesting a neighbour turn down the music so his daughter and baby granddaughter could get some sleep. CEO & founder, Radha Stirling, acknowledged the frivolity of the allegation against him, noting the complaint was likely to have been made to immunise the neighbour against police complaints Ian had indicated he would make after a drink was thrown at him and his granddaughter.

Stirling and her group began an intense campaign for his freedom, enlisting the assistance of Ian’s local MP, Andrew Bowie, who raised the matter with the UAE’s Ambassador and Lord Ahmad.

Two weeks later, Ian was brought down to Al Barsha police station where he was told he would meet with prosecutors. “Ian was extremely nervous”, explained Ms Stirling, “he had no idea what was happening. He was put in front of a judge without his lawyer and essentially pushed to plead guilty to the charges against him. Ian did so and was then held in a locked room on his own, wondering whether he would be taken to prison. He was finally delivered the relieving news that he would be fined AED 3,000 and the travel ban would be removed."

Ian was absolutely relieved and has already booked his flight home to Glasgow. His wife, Carol, phoned Stirling on Monday night. She was so thankful that the nightmare was over. She can’t wait to see him and is especially happy he has not been banned from returning to Dubai to visit his daughter in the future. Carol was extremely appreciative of the support from local and international media, Andrew Bowie, MP, the government of Dubai for intervening and of course, Detained in Dubai.

Dubai’s Public Prosecution confirmed in a statement that an expedited ruling was issued. “Expedited proceedings would be a welcome change for Dubai’s legal system. However, they are extremely rare and Ian is fortunate that his case was escalated within the government.

“For tourists, the process in itself is a significant punishment, resulting in hefty financial penalties through expensive hotels, lawyers and resulting loss of employment. If Dubai can recognise the frivolity of accusations against foreigners and expedite the judicial process, this would go a long way to preventing unfair detentions and travel bans. However, Dubai police also need to review the automatic prosecution process. Just because a complaint is made, doesn’t mean it should automatically go to court and foreigners should not be forced to make the risky decision to plead guilty, just to get home.”

“We are pleased Ian is able to return home to Scotland. Ideally, the allegation’s triviality and unevidenced criminality would have been recognised at the first police interview and the case dismissed, rather than proceeding all the way to a judge. We certainly hope to see this in the future, as we do in places like Scotland. We are thankful for the UAE’s intervention in this case”. Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, previously intervened in Scot’ Jamie Harron’s case, ordering his release.

There are still numerous foreign nationals who are entangled in the UAE’s system. Without intervention like that in Ian’s case, they face incomprehensible trauma and unfair detention. Visitors should not expect their cases will be treated similarly.

Irish citizen, John Meagher, has been jailed for the past week simply because two separate courts refuse to communicate with each other. One court has proven his innocence but another court refuses to remove the execution order wrongfully attached to him.

US Citizen, Cornell Whitfield, has been stuck in the country for months, with judges failing to even turn up to court. Robert Dobbs has been suffering for years, in and out of prison, because of a fake employment claim against him.  And of course, there are Brits who have been languishing in prison long term, like grandfather Albert Douglas, who has suffered severe mental and physical health issues as a result of being beaten in jail.

“Dubai would benefit from a judicial oversight committee and changes to the process that would prevent the unnecessary and lengthy detention of visitors to the UAE”, added Stirling.

It should be noted the FCDO did not assist in the resolution of the matter. Instead, they referred Ian to an individual in Dubai who chastised him for his family's actions in publicly calling for his release, told him to fire his lawyer and then referred him to an associated party who requested money for supposed access to 'connections'.  Stirling commented,“it is common for foreigners to be targeted by individuals who claim to have connections in government and law enforcement.  They ask for hefty sums of money but deliver no results.  It's a common scam and the FCDO must be mindful of such referrals.”


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