x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Beach Briton's departure blocked

One of the two people who faced charges over indecency on a Dubai beach is re-arrested as he tries to leave the country.

DUBAI // A Briton due to be deported after he was convicted of illicit relations on a beach was stopped at Dubai's airport and not allowed to board his flight because of ticket problems. Vince Acors, 34, had been due to fly back to the UK in the early hours of Tuesday but was taken back to jail amid claims his ticket was invalid. He and a fellow Briton, Michelle Palmer, 36, were sentenced to three months in prison in October for engaging in illicit sexual relations on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai in the early hours of July 5, hours after meeting at a champagne brunch at a five-star hotel. Their sentences were suspended on appeal last month and they were told they would instead be deported and ordered to pay a fine. Acors' British lawyer, Andrew Crossley, said his client had been "feet from freedom" when the administrative problem occurred. "He had booked his flight back to the UK. His flight paperwork was printed out by the prison authorities but for some reason the printout did not show his e-ticket number. "The police cannot release him until he has a confirmed flight and he has been checked in." He was detained in an airport holding cell before being ordered back to jail. "I spoke to him when he was travelling back to the prison. He wasn't in the best of moods." Mr Crossley said his client still hoped to return to the UK "over the Christmas period" to spend the holiday with his son. He refused to provide any further details of Acors' travel plans but said his client had planned to hold a press conference in London on Monday. This was Mr Acors' third attempt to return to the UK, said Mr Crossley. His previous efforts to leave the country were thwarted partly by confusion over his visa status, as he had been staying in the UAE on a tourist visa that expired before his deportation paperwork was completed. "The mistake with the paperwork was a genuine administrative error. I do not believe there was anything sinister about the delay," Mr Crossley said.

The National approached the DNRD for a comment on the confusion but they did not respond. "There are only two reasons why there might be a delay either because of an administrative error or because they drag their feet in order to get the deportation overturned, said Abdul Hamid al Kumaity, a Dubai-based lawyer who specialises in human rights and deportation cases. "If you can afford the ticket it shouldn't be a problem. When the ruling comes from the court that should be carried out as soon as possible the court order is for deportation, not for imprisonment. It is a relatively simple process you book the ticket and are taken to the airport, and that's it." A spokesman for the DNRD said yesterday that the matter was under investigation and that he could not comment further on the case. Palmer, who lost her job in Dubai, flew back to the UK last week, said Hassan Mattar, a lawyer who represented both defendants at trial and during the appeal. Mr Mattar claimed that Acors' mix-up yesterday occurred because his ticket was invalid. "It was Vince's mistake, he presented an invalid and used ticket. The police escort stayed with him all night while he tried to get another flight booking," he said. chamilton@thenational.ae hbathish@thenational.ae