Statement from Radha Stirling 17:00, 11 October 2017 re Jamie Harron
Jamie has two open cases against him in Dubai. The first case was for brushing past the man and the second includes allegations of a rude gesture and drinking alcohol. The first case has not been heard yet and the second was heard in absentia. In his absence, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison for the rude gesture, a 2,000 dirham fine (£apx. £400) and deportation. Jamie’s lawyers however, have submitted an appeal. Jamie adamantly denies the allegations of a rude gesture and of indecent behaviour but admits drinking alcohol.
We are expecting a judgment on the 22nd of October in at least one of the cases but the process and particulars has attracted a lot of confusion.
We spoke with Jamie today who is frustrated that cases have been separated. “If they are separated, it means I could be here for longer. Apparently, I was sentenced for raising my finger at the man but I did not do that. I wouldn’t do that.”
Jamie met up with Jamil yesterday, who is awaiting his judgments after being accused of a rude gesture in traffic. Jamil is pleading guilty to the charge, self represented while Jamie’s allegations required formal legal representation to dispute. In the mean time, Detained in Dubai has reported the arrests of two further British nationals for drinking alcohol on board an Emirates airlines flight. Unfortunately, on arrival in Dubai in transit, it is illegal to have alcohol in one’s system.
We have received a number of new reports from people in the same or similar circumstances to Jamie. Others have called to try to get word to the world that the media has not covered debt cases enough. Countless foreigners have been detained in the UAE for debt charges or credit card bill payments. They are either on bail but without the ability to work because their passports have been confiscated or they are in jail, thanks to the banking laws in Dubai.
In the past three months, we have helped several clients who have been arrested in Europe after UAE banks have wrongfully reported them to the Interpol database. Debt should never be reported to Interpol in the first place but the UAE heavily funds the international organisation.
We defended another Scot a few weeks ago, Mr Gary Black from a UAE extradition request. The final judgment has not been issued yet but it was another case of a local business partner abusing the backwards judicial system in the gulf nation. While in Edinburgh on the extradition case, I met with David Ballantine who was held in Dubai for 2 years without his passport after a taxi driver wrongfully accused him of not paying a 10 dirham fee to drive 50 feet. On the contrary, David indeed paid the 10 dirham fee and had the records to prove it. Over such a trivial accusation, David spent 2.5 months in prison and 2 years in a country where he was not allowed to work.
David has said on his Facebook that "enough is enough" and has called on Scottish people to support Jamie using a number of hashtags. The public support for Jamie and other Brits abused abroad has been phenomenal. Already, the #JamieHarron has become popular with supporters tweeting @DubaiTourism and @DXBMediaOffice. This case is a final straw in a series of reported abuses abroad. The public is saying no more.
Mr Ballantine is furious that the UK government does not do enough to warn citizens and when their rights are abused, does nothing to help them. He is currently working with lawyers in the UK to ensure their future accountability to citizens over diplomatic and trade deals with the UAE.