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  • Writer's pictureDue Process International

Scottish grandfather’s Christmas visit to Dubai ends in nightmare

A 75 year old Aberdeenshire grandfather has been accused of trespass after complaining of Dubai neighbour’s party noise while looking after infant grandchild.

Ian Mackellar has supported his family for years, involving extensive travel to Australia to assist with his children and grandchildren. His daughter recently moved to Dubai to take on a new job that would support her child. Ian and his wife quickly booked a flight to meet her and babysit while she established herself.

One of his daughter’s neighbours hosted a New Year’s Eve party. His daughter had to begin work in the early hours of the morning and with an 18 month old, they asked the host to be mindful of sleeping babies and early risers.

It was impossible to sleep, and at almost 1am, they messaged the host asking if she could turn the music down, but it become louder. Ian’s daughter needed to get up at 05:30 for work and decided to go around to her neighbour’s house and ask them to turn it down. Ian offered to do so instead, taking his granddaughter with him as she was awake. He wanted to give his daughter a chance to resume sleeping.

Ian knocked on the door but nobody responded. He decided to head down the open side path to the garden where he could see guests in attendance. Ian asked if they could move the party indoors. It was late and they needed sleep. He was met with an unexpected response when multiple guests at the party started pushing him backwards, causing him to stumble. The guests were shouting at him and filming him. The baby’s milk bottle was knocked to the ground. 2-3 male guests tried to diffuse the situation, holding back some of the more aggressive male guests. They advised Ian to leave and he gladly did.

Ian had made his way to the street when the host ran up to him screaming. Shockingly, she threw a drink over the baby. Ian told her it was “unacceptable” and he would report it to the police but his daughter didn’t want to, given she was new to the neighbourhood. She took her daughter to bathe and change her saturated clothes.

“It is standard practice in Dubai to preemptively file a police report when at risk of being reported”, explains Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “The prosecution tends to side with whomever makes the first police report, so if someone is at risk of being reported themselves, they will quickly file against the actual victim. This is how people familiar with Dubai justice manipulate the system to their advantage.”

The neighbour predictably filed a police complaint against Ian for “trespass”, resulting in a travel ban and potentially several years in prison. “It is commonplace for foreigners in this situation to offer financial compensation to their accuser in order to drop the case”, added Stirling, “authorities in Dubai need to crack down on this blatant abuse of criminal justice system. The practice is systemic and will require significant legislative change to stamp it out completely”.

Stirling has reached out to Ian’s MP, Andrew Bowie for assistance. Detained in Dubai has helped more than 20,000 people over the past 16 years. A number of Scots have faced arrest and detention in the Gulf over the past decade, including the well known cases of Brian Glendinning, Conor Howard, Billy Barclay and Jamie Harron. “It’s imperative that parliamentary representatives support their constituents where they face injustice. We’re seeing more and more MP’s demanding action from the FCDO and foreign ministry counterparts in countries like the UAE, Qatar and Saudi.” 

Ian was scheduled to return to Scotland on the 10th of January but now remains in the UAE indefinitely where he has no access to medical care and where he will be separated from his wife. “This is a very sad situation. Nobody would ever imagine that a polite request to turn the music down would result in a travel ban and criminal prosecution”, says Stirling. “Again and again, we are reminded that a simple trip to Dubai can indeed be a one way ticket. If the case isn’t dropped, Ian will likely end up in prisons notorious for human rights violations, and he simply doesn’t deserve it.”


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