George Atkinson

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 15th May 2003.

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Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office 7:15 pm, 15th May 2003

I am grateful to Mr. Swayne for raising the case of George Atkinson, a British citizen who is imprisoned in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for financial crimes. I note that the hon. Gentleman has raised the case on at least two previous occasions, in June 1998 and January 1999. I appreciate his continued interest. We, too, are interested in it. I am sure that Mr. Atkinson, his wife, family and friends are also grateful for the hon. Gentleman's commitment.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through its consular staff in Dubai and London, is similarly committed to providing all the appropriate consular assistance to Mr. Atkinson. He is allowed to call our embassy almost daily and, as his family knows, our staff visit regularly to ensure his welfare and discuss aspects of his case. Our consular officers visited Mr. Atkinson most recently on 7 April. They confirmed that he is in good health. Another visit is planned for the end of this month.

Mr. Atkinson completed a six-year sentence in Dubai for financial crimes on 28 February 2003. However, in accordance with Dubai law, he is now serving an additional six months for non-payment of fines.