Middle East

Prison term dropped for Briton accused of touching man’s hip as he carried drink through crowded Dubai bar

Electrician Jamie Harron was arrested for public indecency during a two-day stopover in Dubai, but he says he was simply trying not to spill his drink

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 9:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 10:50pm

An activist group said a three-month prison sentence has been dropped for a Scottish man accused of touching another man’s hip in a Dubai bar.

Radha Stirling of the advocacy group Detained in Dubai said Jamie Harron’s passport was returned by police on Monday and that he was planning to leave the sheikhdom soon.

Dubai police and the Dubai Media Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The alleged sexual assault, which Harron strongly denied, happened on July 15 at the rowdy Rock Bottom bar - a popular haunt for the many well-heeled foreigners in Dubai.

The 27-year-old electrician from Stirling, who was in Dubai on a two-day stopover, claimed he was simply trying to avoid spilling his drink when he touched the man.

The German expatriate reported him to police.

Jamie will definitely be pursuing civil action against his accusers when he does eventually return home
Radha Sterling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai

Harron also faced charges of drinking alcohol without a permit and giving the man the finger during the argument.

Dubai, a tourism and trade hub in the Gulf, allows drinking in hotels and bars as it seeks to encourage foreigners to visit but has strict laws against homosexuality and public indecency.

In an earlier statement, the advocacy group said Harron was “angry, disappointed and dreads what may happen next. He feels betrayed and exploited by the system, which did not investigate the reports of key witnesses in his defence and led him to believe that the case would be dropped.”

The group said Harron would take legal action against his accuser, said to be a senior employee at the engineering firm Neuman and Esser, when he was eventually able to return to Britain.

Stirling said Harron had “suffered tremendously” as a result of the allegations, had lost his job, faced losing his home and was struggling to pay his legal bills.

“His family was unable to visit him during this critical time because they faced a very real risk of imprisonment themselves under the UAE’s cybercrime laws which forbid criticism of the government.

“At this point, Jamie will definitely be pursuing civil action against his accusers when he does eventually return home, as it appears that he will not be able to find justice in the UAE.”

Neuman and Esser said its employee sought to drop his complaint against Harron in August.

Harron was previously sentenced to 30 days in prison for failing to appear at a court hearing into his case, although Detained in Dubai said he had not been notified of the date in advance.

Associated Press, The Guardian, Reuters