The parents of Jamie Harron, the Scotsman arrested in Dubai for accidentally touching another man’s hip while trying to avoid bumping into him in a crowded bar, have spoken out. They tell of their fears for Jamie, and how the pressure has affected their close family.
Jamie’s father Graham, a caterer, and his mother Patricia are beside themselves with worry. Patricia cannot sleep. "I'm up all night worrying about what is going to happen to Jamie in court on Sunday," she says. "There's no chance of sleep."
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained In Dubai, the NGO representing Jamie and his family is in constant communication with the worried couple.
Graham stresses that he is very grateful for all the support from the press and the people of the UK.
He says, “Patricia and I have not been able to relax for a moment. We never dreamed we would have to face something like this. I wanted him to tell his story to the press but he really did not think it would be necessary. We can't believe that this nightmare has gone on for three months. Jamie is a good boy. He has never been a problem and never in trouble. We are a very close family and it is killing us to think of him spending even 3 nights in jail, let alone 3 years."
Graham continues, “The UK embassy has not done anything to help and seem to think it is absolutely fine for British nationals to be abused in this way. People have to stop visiting that country. Since Jamie was arrested, I have researched and found that this is more common than any of us think. It is unacceptable the FCO actually promotes the UAE to British tourists.”
“We are so worried about what may happen tomorrow at the hearing. We have been told to expect he will be taken into custody. We feel helpless.”
"Questions need to be answered as to why there is no advice about these incidents on the UK FCO website," Graham insists, "and where are the embassy staff who should be offering emotional and practical support to both Jamie in the UAE and his family back home in Stirling?"
Graham and Patricia spoke of their family’s finances which are now in tatters, Jamie has been forced to pay over £10,000 for a solicitor and run up huge credit card debts which he is going to have trouble repaying, now that he has lost his job. Loving parents Graham and Patricia have also stretched their own finances to breaking point to help their son.
Jamie adds, “the whole thing is like a horrible dream and I just don’t know when it is going to end. I thought it would be over by now but it feels like it will never be. I am lucky I have friends to stay with but this has broken me, financially and emotionally. I am in debt because of the legal fees and won’t even be able to afford to appeal the case if it doesn’t go in my favour”.
Radha Stirling adds in a statement, “Jamie’s local MP, Stephen Kerr, contacted me today to ask whether he should intervene and we have requested he do so. This case has been brought to the attention of the UAE government who we hope will intervene and stop the injustice. More and more British nationals have written Dubai off as a possible holiday destination in light of several recent high profile arrests and we are inundated with more stories of legal abuse. We are hoping to work with the UAE government to make improvements to make the country safer for tourists, expats and investors.
We are all anxiously awaiting to see whether Jamie is jailed tomorrow for previously not turning up to a court hearing that neither he, nor his lawyer, were advised of”.
*Update as of 13:00 GMT: Jamie attended court this morning and was not arrested so far. His lawyer has appealed the sentence of 30 days for failing to appear at court and further hearings are expected in two week's time.