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Dubai drops case against British man for ‘touching man’s hip’

Nick Duffy October 23, 2017
Jamie Harron (Facebook)

Jamie Harron (Facebook)

A Scottish man who was jailed in Dubai for touching another man’s hip has been cleared, after intervention by UAE’s prime minister.

Jamie Harron, a 27-year-old electrician from Stirling, was sentenced to months in prison for public indecency after he touched another man in a bar, apparently to avoid spilling a drink.

The alleged incident took place at the Rock Bottom Bar on July 15.

Jamie Harron
Jamie Harron (Facebook)

Just last week Harron was sentenced to three months behind bars, after spending thousands of pounds on legal costs and expenses.

But he is now expected to be freed, after the charges against him were mysteriously dropped in the face of negative media coverage.

Action group Detained in Dubai, said that the charges were dropped under orders from  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the United Arab Emirates prime minister and ruler of Dubai.

The group said that Mr Harron has had his passport returned, and that he is free to leave Dubai.

Detained in Dubai spokeswoman Radha Stirling told the BBC: “The charges were dropped, the sentence annulled, and he faces no order for deportation. This came by direct order from Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid al-Maktoum].

“We wish to express our deepest gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed for his personal intervention in this case, and for exonerating Jamie at long last.

“It has now been established that the allegations against Jamie were entirely unwarranted, defamatory, and meritless.”

Related: Where is it illegal to be gay? A look at all the countries where homosexuality is against the law

Harron had also faced charges for drinking alcohol and “making a rude gesture”.

Pressure group Detained In Dubai championed the detained man’s cause.

It describes itself as “a not for profit organisation formed to assist people who have become victims of injustice in the United Arab Emirates”.

Dubai waterfront (Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Dubai waterfront (Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said: “Regarding the alcohol charges, of course he was drinking, everyone was. The entire enforcement system in the UAE needs an overhaul.

“The case has prompted 80 messages an hour of support and has even prompted calls for a boycott of the UAE over its treatment of expats and tourists.”

Harron’s parents Graham and Patricia recently spoke out about their worry for their son.

“We can’t believe that this nightmare has gone on for three months,” said his father Graham.

“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.”

Gay sex is illegal for men and women in the United Arab Emirates under section 354 of the federation’s legal code.

Punishment can include deportation, chemical castrations, fines and prison time. While the legal code mentions the death penalty, it has not been implemented for same-sex relations in the country.

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