x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UK navy to meet Dubai officials for first time since sailor vanished

Officers from the Royal Navy's special investigation branch will be holding their first meeting with the Dubai authorities since Mr MacColl vanished in Dubai last May.

Timmy MacColl went missing in Dubai on May 26.
Timmy MacColl went missing in Dubai on May 26.

DUBAI // The family of the missing British seaman, Timmy MacColl, are finalising plans for a trip to Dubai that they hope will solve the mystery of his disappearance.

Family members will be travelling with officers from the Royal Navy's special investigation branch who will be holding their first meeting with the Dubai authorities since Mr MacColl vanished while on shore leave in the city last May. Mr MacColl's family will also attend the talks.

Details of the visit were announced by Lisa Jane Glover, one of the administrators of the Bring Timmy Home Facebook group. She said on the site: "For security reasons I cannot disclose who is travelling or on what dates but the meeting will be happening in the next few weeks.

"2013 is starting on a good foot and hopefully we will get the answers about Timmy and him back where he belongs."

She revealed that an anonymous supporter of the Bring Timmy Home campaign had paid for all the flights for the family.

She described this as a "truly amazing gesture", and in a message to the donor added: "We all are overwhelmed by your generosity."

Mr MacColl, 28, from Gosport, Hampshire, went missing on May 27 after his ship, HMS Westminster, docked at Port Rashid. He was last seen stepping into a taxi alone outside the Rock Bottom Cafe at the Regent Palace Hotel in Bur Dubai just after 2am.

His wife Rachael, 25, and their children - Cameron, 7, Skye, 4, and baby Eriskay - have just endured the heartbreak of going through the festive season without him. Mr MacColl has not met his youngest daughter, Eriskay, because she was born in September after his disappearance.

News of the forthcoming visit was welcomed by supporters on Facebook. Karen Grey said: "Amazing news! Let's hope the answers start coming quickly now."

Janet Lewis said: "Let's hope you get the answers you so desperately need and Timmy's back to see his lovely new daughter."

Liz Fitzpatrick said: "I hope you get the answers you deserve. Rachael you are an amazing lady, I know I wouldn't have coped as well. Timmy would be so proud xx."

Members of the family, including Mrs MacColl, visited Dubai a few weeks after he vanished. She was five months pregnant at the time.

The investigation into her husband's disappearance is being led by Dubai Police. They have been assisted by Royal Navy divers who in July searched the waters in and around Port Rashid to establish whether he may have fallen into the harbour while returning to the ship, but nothing was found.

The navy subsequently launched an inquiry into the way it handles missing persons cases.

The family is seeking support for a petition calling for a debate on the case in the UK Parliament, and have gathered nearly 14,200 signatures.

A £250,000 (Dh1.5 million) reward is on offer to anyone providing information that leads to Mr MacColl being found. The cash has been provided by an anonymous benefactor.

In August last year, the family had to endure the pain of watching HMS Westminster arrive home without him. The frigate had returned to its home port of Portsmouth, England, at the end of a six-month mission in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

His shipmates are now preparing for a new mission that is due to start later this year.

Anyone with information about Mr MacColl should call Dubai Police headquarters on 04 2229222 or Al Rafa police station on 04 3937777, quoting case number 71802012.

csimpson@thenational.ae