Dubai Frees Briton Who Was Sentenced for Touching Another Man

October 23, 2017 Updated: October 24, 2017

A Scottish man has been freed after being sentenced for three months for touching a man at a bar in Dubai.

Jamie Harron, from Stirling, was arrested in July and charged for “public indecency.” The 27-year-old said he was trying to avoid spilling his drink when he touched a man’s hip at the Rock Bottom bar, a popular venue for Dubai’s wealthy and often tipsy tourists. The man reported him to the police.

Local reports said that Harron was sentenced to three months in jail on Sunday, Oct. 22. But Dubai’s ruler pardoned him a day later.

“By special order of the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Jamie Harron has been freed. The cases against him have been dismissed, and the sentence imposed by the court yesterday has been nullified,” said Detained in Dubai, a group that assists foreigners facing legal problems in the emirate.

Harron, who worked as an electrician in Afghanistan, was on a two-day stopover in the United Arab Emirates on July 15 when the incident happened and he has been stranded there ever since.

The Scot was also accused of drinking alcohol and making a rude gesture towards the man who made the complaint.

According to the BBC, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison for the rude gesture and received a 2,000 dirham ($544) fine and deportation for drinking beer.

It might have people re-thinking their visits to Dubai.

Harron described the justice system in Dubai an “absolute shambles” according to the Sun. He said his parents were “ecstatic” that he was freed and his mother broke down in tears.

“Just stop crying mum, don’t be upset anymore. Don’t cry anymore,” he told his mum.

He thanked friends, family and supporters in a video posted on YouTube.

The British Ambassador to the UAE, Philip Parham recently published a statement outlining travel tips for Britons looking to travel there.

“Local laws and customs are very different to those in the UK and that there may be serious penalties for doing something which may not be illegal in the UK,” he wrote.

“We recommend that people make an effort before they travel to familiarise themselves with local laws and customs, and respect them while abroad.”

Radha Stirling, head of Detained in Dubai, said she hoped cases like Harron‘s would not happen again.

“Of course, a fully functional legal system would not require outside intervention, and a case like Jamie‘s would never proceed in the first place. But we are enormously grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for stepping in.”

Reuters contributed to this report

Follow Jane on Twitter: @itsjanewriting