DUBAI officials claim a Brit mum who was thrown in jail for drinking a glass of wine on an Emirates flight from London was “abusive” and “illegally filmed” airport staff.
Dr Ellie Holman, 44, was detained with her daughter, four, after getting into a dispute with staff over her visa – then quizzed over a free drink she was given on the plane.
The dentist, of Sevenoaks, Kent, says they were dumped in a “baking hot and foul-smelling jail” because consuming alcohol in the strict Arab state is illegal.
She claims her ordeal began on July 13 when she stepped off the eight-hour flight to be told her visa was only valid for one visit and she’d have to return to London immediately.
But the thought of getting back on the long-haul flight with her young daughter Bibi was “unthinkable” and she got in a tense standoff with the officer at Dubai International Airport.
Dr Holman, who is originally from Sweden, said he then began to quiz her over whether she had been drinking and she confirmed she had a free glass of wine given to her by Emirates staff.
The official informed Dr Holman that possession of alcohol is a crime in the UAE, even if it is inside a person’s body, and she was led away to the cells.
But officials say she was detained after she began filming the heated discussion with an immigration official on her phone.
A Dubai Airport official told The Sun: “We dispute Dr Holman’s account of her treatment.
“She was not turned away because she had a one-visit visa, as she claimed, because European citizens get a 30-day visa upon arrival.
“UAE law is strict on people recording others on their mobile phone without permission, which will not have helped Dr Holman’s case.
“She became abusive towards airport staff, which is not tolerated.
“We cannot comment further as Dr Holman’s case is still under review but there is more to her story than she has told.”
Dr Holman was visiting Dubai with Bibi for a five-day break and it is understood she’s a regular visitor to the city where she is well-known in the Brit expat community.
She is also said to regularly fly over for weeks at a time to carry out beauty procedures such as Botox.
Getting on the wrong side of an immigration official resulted in her spending three days in a cramped detention centre without food, water and air conditioning after her arrest.
“My daughter is a happy, smiley girl, but now she was terrified,” she said.
“My little girl had to go to the toilet on the cell floor. I have never heard her cry in the same way as she did in that cell.”
Detained in Dubai said Dr Holman’s passport has been confiscated by Dubai officials and she faces a long wait for the case to be resolved.
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Meanwhile, her husband Gary flew out to Dubai to take Bibi home to Kent while Holman stays with friends in Dubai.
David Haigh, partner at Detained in Dubai said: “It’s heartbreaking to see a mother and child arrested over something so trivial as a glass of wine.
“This is not a country that tourists should be spending their money in or supporting in any way.
“The UAE jails people for poppy seed bread rolls, for prescribed medicines, for their use of twitter and for consuming alcohol at licensed premises.
“It persecutes the LGBTQ community and jails rape victims for sex outside marriage. British nationals are strongly advised to avoid the UAE and choose safer holiday destinations.”
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