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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Scottish tourist jailed for drunkenly touching man in Dubai bar

Jamie Harron's case has attracted widespread international media coverage

Jamie Harron was sentenced to three months in jail but will now walk free after the pardon.
Jamie Harron was sentenced to three months in jail but will now walk free after the pardon.

A tourist accused of drunkenly touching a man at a bar in Dubai will serve three months in jail after being convicted by a court on Sunday.

Jamie Harron, 27, from Scotland, was arrested after a German expat called police alleging the man had patted his behind, then flashed his middle finger, the court heard.

The incident took placed at a bar in the Barsha Heights district on July 15.

The victim, who is of Jordanian descent, told Dubai Criminal Court that when he questioned Harron about touching his behind, the accused flashed his middle finger.

“I didn't say anything nor did I scream or insult him. I just called police, who arrested him,” said the 49-year-old manager, who had not met the accused before.

Harron denied a charge of sexual assault earlier this month.

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He had already denied charges of consuming alcohol without a licence and committing a publicly indecent act by flagging his middle finger, at Dubai Court of Misdemeanours.

A 27-year-old mechanical engineer, who is a witness friend of Harron, told prosecutors that the Scotsman did not mean to offend the man, but confirmed that he did touch him.

“He was passing near the other man and accidentally touched his arm then immediately apologised and he patted him on his behind in a gesture that meant he was sorry,” said the witness.

The case has attracted widespread international media coverage and reports say Harron was on a two-day stopover in Dubai on his way back to Afghanistan, where he worked as an electrician.

Harron was publicly identified by his lawyers and spoke out to claim that he was walking through a crowded bar and accidentally touched the man as he tried to avoid spilling a drink.

The case was the latest in a series of incidents involving British nationals on holiday.

Last month, another Briton was charged over raising his middle finger in a road rage incident.

Jamil Ahmed Mukadam, a 23-year-old IT worker from Leicester, allegedly stuck his middle finger up at a driver while making his way to Dubai airport in a rental car in February.

He is awaiting a case against him being brought to court.

Last week British Ambassador Philip Parham issued advice to visitors in light of the cases.

"Our travel advice for the UAE explains that 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 said last week.

"But we understand that, regardless of how prepared we all are, British people can still find themselves in difficult or distressing situations, and we are ready to help on those occasions."

Harron was not in court for his verdict and had no lawyer representing him there either. But he can appeal the conviction and sentence within two weeks.

Detained in Dubai, a British-based legal group, said his "lawyers say they will appeal" on Twitter on Sunday.

He will be deported after serving his sentence.