British woman arrested after alleging rape in Dubai now 'free to go'

Dubai has very strict laws about sexual behaviour. Photo / Getty Images
Dubai has very strict laws about sexual behaviour. Photo / Getty Images

A British woman who alleged she was raped by two men in Dubai and was then held for having "extra-marital sex'' has been told she's free to go home after the case collapsed.

Prosecutors in Dubai said today they had dropped the case involving the British woman and two men after studying mobile phone footage of the alleged rape.

The woman and the two men have been told they are free to return home.

A statement from prosecutors said: "The office of Dubai Public Prosecutor has closed the case involving the alleged rape of British national ZJM following careful examination of all evidence."Prosecutors concluded that "the act happened with the consent of the three parties in question''.

"A video obtained from the mobile phone of one of the suspects detailing the act was a key evidence that supported this conclusion," prosecutors said.

The alleged rape was reported in late October by British national ZJM at Al Barsha police station.

"The two male suspects, also British nationals, were arrested and questioned. The three parties were later released on bail. Their passports were retained to facilitate proper investigations.

"Dubai's legal system takes reports of all crimes very seriously, including and especially violence against women, and conducts thorough investigations of all incidents,'' the statement said.

The 25-year-old woman involved last week spoke out after her alleged attackers posed for a smiling selfie with a reality TV star days after their arrest.

Dave Butlin, 22, and Louis Harris, 24, are accused of attacking the woman, who was then thrown in jail for having sex outside marriage when she complained to police.

She said: "I have every respect for the United Arab Emirates and its laws and have faith that justice will be done. The truth will out.''

A message from her to her father on Facebook read: "It's petrifying out here alone but I have to stay strong.''

An unnamed friend told the Sun she was being "incredibly brave'' and keeping her head down while those accused of raping her are "sunbathing and boozing with pals".

"At some point the world will know what has happened,'' she told the paper. "She is strong but being tested to the limit."

Butlin and Harris were arrested for the alleged attack as they tried to board a plane home last month.

After being questioned and bailed, they were pictured on sun loungers at a beach club with James Argent, who stars in reality TV show The Only Way is Essex.

Their alleged victim, an IT consultant, is separated from her husband of two years, had stopped in the UAE on her way to Australia where she was hoping to start a new life.
She went for a drink with Butlin and Harris - a footballer who still lives with his parents in a £700,000 ($1.2 million) rural property near Lichfield, Staffordshire - but they allegedly attacked her and filmed it on a mobile phone.

The woman was arrested in Dubai after laying a rape complaint. Photo / Getty Images
The woman was arrested in Dubai after laying a rape complaint. Photo / Getty Images

Detained in the Gulf state after having her passport confiscated, the woman's family said she was treated like a criminal by the Dubai authorities.

It is understood Harris and Butlin - believed to be cousins - strenuously deny the claims.
Photographs posted on Argent's Instagram page last week show the 28-year-old with the pair at the exclusive Blue Marlin Club, which is inspired by the beach clubs on the party island of Ibiza. The caption read: "The Brummie boys.''

Harris and Butlin, a businessman and market trader who also still lives with his parents in a £600,000 property in a gated community in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, have also had to surrender their passports and can't leave the UAE.

A relative of Harris, a former academy player with Wolverhampton Wanderers who now plays for Walsall Wood in the Midlands Football League, admitted it was a "difficult'' time. She said: "All I'll say is that he's a really lovely boy."Legal sources said all three Britons could have faced a charge of consensual sex outside marriage and also of being drunk, which is illegal in Dubai even though consuming alcohol is not.

The source said prosecutors could have added a further charge of filming sex. In the UAE, it is illegal for married people to have sex out of wedlock and for a single person to have sex with someone who is married.

A huge number of Westerners visit Dubai every year and it is relatively rare for Britons to fall foul of its morality laws.

But the Foreign Office has said Britons are proportionately more likely to be arrested there than any other country.

Radha Stirling, of Detained in Dubai, said the UAE had a long history of failing to deal properly with allegations of rape.

"We have campaigned to change attitudes in the police and judiciary. Recent cases show that it is still not safe for victims to report these crimes to the police without the risk of suffering a double punishment.''

A spokesman for ITV said Argent did not wish to comment. There is no suggestion that he is suspected of any crime.

The alleged rape took place at the £160-a-night Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach hotel in Dubai, where the two men were staying.

It is understood to have happened on October 23, but the arrests did not take place until October 25.

When the woman described her ordeal to detectives, she was charged with having extra-marital sex.

She was bailed after spending days in jail and was forbidden from leaving the Gulf state. In posts on social media the woman, who is living with an English family in a "safe'' house, revealed she is "petrified'' and "fearful''.

- Daily Mail

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