A 27-year-old man is facing three years in a Dubai jail after touching another man’s hip in a packed bar. Picture: Jamie Harron/Facebook
A 27-year-old man is facing three years in a Dubai jail after touching another man’s hip in a packed bar. Picture: Jamie Harron/Facebook

Tourist facing jail sentence for bumping into a man at a bar

A BRIT is facing three years in a Dubai jail after he touched a man's hip while trying to avoid spilling his drink in a busy bar.

Jamie Harron has already spent three months fighting charges and has been left jobless and penniless because of what he called a "cultural misunderstanding", The Sun reports.

The electrician, 27, has forked out more than $54,0000 (£32,000) in legal fees and has been unable to fly home because authorities stripped him of his passport.

As he faces public indecency trial on Sunday, Jamie, from Stirling in Scotland, said: "I am really stunned that it has gone that far."

His ordeal began when he stopped off in the Emirate state in July for a two-day trip on his way to a job in Afghanistan.

The sparky was having a drink with friends at the Rock Bottom Bar in Dubai - a popular venue for young people in the Tecom area of the city.

Jamie and his friend had bought their first drink in the crowded bar when he placed his hand on the hip of man to ensure they didn't bump and spill their drinks.

Police turned up and arrested Jamie who says he was jailed with no idea of the charge.

He said a prosecutor later told him that he had been charged with drinking alcohol and "public indecency".

Jamie denies this latter charge, claiming his only intention was to avoid spilling a drink.

But tourists who consume alcohol at licenced venues in Dubai can still be arrested for having alcohol in their system.

Since the initial arrest, Jamie has been sacked from his job in Afghanistan and is now relying on charity from friends for accommodation.

He was due to attend court on Sunday but says the meeting was held in private without his lawyers being informed.

He said: "I am really stunned that it has gone that far.

"I have witnesses who are willing to present themselves in court, even the bouncer at the bar. I cannot believe I am facing these allegations when I followed the laws in their entirety."

"Now it is possible that I will be arrested on Sunday for failing to appear at a court hearing that neither I, nor my lawyer, were advised of."

After being arrested, Jamie was held in the notorious Al Barsha prison, where he claims he was not allowed to wash himself or brush his teeth.

He said he was left in a "foul smelling" cell with another eight nationalities sleeping on the floor with "one revolting mattress between them all".

Jamie was bailed, but his passport was confiscated so that he could not leave the country.

He claims he missed the "secret hearing" because he didn't know anything about it.

Jamie added: "Of course if I had known there was a change in the court date, I would have been there. I have been waiting for months to appear and now it looks as though I will be arrested when I go to the hearing."

"It is completely unfair and I can't understand how I can be sentenced for failing to appear when I was not even informed of the hearing."

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained In Dubai, the British based NGO who is leading the campaign to help him, said: "Jamie has been advised by his lawyer that he is at high risk of being jailed for a duration of up to three years."

"It is quite outrageous that he has been held in the country for so long already. This is another example of how vulnerable tourists are to arrest and detention in Dubai and at how drawn out and disorganised legal proceedings are."

"If Jamie is sentenced to prison, he faces human rights violations and torture."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman told The Sun Online: "We have been in contact with a British man following his arrest in Dubai in July. We are providing consular assistance."

This article was originally published by The Sun and appears here with permission.