Mother jailed in Dubai for having glass of wine on flight from Gatwick

A dentist thrown into a Dubai jail with her four-year-old daughter for drinking a glass of wine on a flight from London today tearfully told how she is desperate to return home and be re-united with her family.

Dr Ellie Holman, 44, faces being held in the Arab state for a year after being arrested for consuming alcohol provided by Emirates Airline on the eight hour flight from London. 

She told MailOnline she cant wait to home in Kent and see her three young children, including daughter Bibi, who spent three days with her in an airport jail after her arrest.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, she said: ‘I just want to go home. I miss my friends and I miss my family, especially my Bibi.

‘Being in prison terrified me as a grownup, I can’t imagine how this must have affected her. I just want to be home and safe with Gary and all my children.’ 

Dr Ellie Holman and her daughter Bibi, four, both pictured, were held in a Dubai jail cell for three days after she was arrested for drinking wine on an Emirates flight from the UK

Dr Ellie Holman and her daughter Bibi, four, both pictured, were held in a Dubai jail cell for three days after she was arrested for drinking wine on an Emirates flight from the UK

Dr Ellie Holman and her daughter Bibi, four, both pictured, were held in a Dubai jail cell for three days after she was arrested for drinking wine on an Emirates flight from the UK

Dentist Dr Holman, pictured with children (from left) Noah, eight, Bibi, and Suri, nine, said her ordeal began when she was surrounded by armed police after trying to film her argument with an immigration official when he claimed her visa had expired

Dentist Dr Holman, pictured with children (from left) Noah, eight, Bibi, and Suri, nine, said her ordeal began when she was surrounded by armed police after trying to film her argument with an immigration official when he claimed her visa had expired

Dentist Dr Holman, pictured with children (from left) Noah, eight, Bibi, and Suri, nine, said her ordeal began when she was surrounded by armed police after trying to film her argument with an immigration official when he claimed her visa had expired

Dr Holman's husband Gary (pictured) who spent three days not knowing where his wife and daughter was, declined to comment at his mother's home today

Dr Holman's husband Gary (pictured) who spent three days not knowing where his wife and daughter was, declined to comment at his mother's home today

Dr Holman’s husband Gary (pictured) who spent three days not knowing where his wife and daughter was, declined to comment at his mother’s home today

Dr Holman, who runs a dental practice in Sevenoaks, Kent, fears the youngster will be mentally scared by her ordeal and insists she has never put her in danger by breaking any laws. 

She added that her family are in torment over not knowing what will happen to her.

Officials have told her it could be up to a year before her case is resolved with the threat of a long prison sentence.

She said: ‘My family in England have it tough too, not knowing if I will end up in prison. I am taking this one moment at a time, anything more than that I am in tears.’ 

However a Dubai airport official told the Sun that they disputed Dr Holman’s account, saying she had tried to film the discussion with immigration staff. 

‘She became abusive towards airport staff, which is not tolerated,’ the spokesman said.  

MailOnline revealed how the Swedish born mum of three was thrown into jail after arriving for a five day holiday in the popular tourist destination. 

Her husband Gary, who spent three days not knowing where his wife and daughter was, declined to comment at his mother’s home today. 

Wearing a white shirt and beige chinos, said: ‘We can’t say anything for legal reasons. I’m sorry.’   

Respected BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson has leapt to the defence of Dr Holman.

In a tweet, Simpson said: ‘Appalled but not surprised Sevenoaks dentist Ellie Holman arrested at Dubai airport after being asked by immigration official if she had a drink on her 8 hour flight. I never go to Dubai – was once arrested for asking an idle immigration official to hurry because I had a connecting flight.’

Dr Holmon’s nightmare began after she stepped off an Emirates Airlines flight from London to Dubai on July 13th. 

During the flight she was served a glass of red wine with her meal. Alcohol is served as standard practice on Emirates Airlines on flights from the UK to Dubai. 

On arrival Dr Holman was quizzed by an immigration official over her visa who told her it was not valid.

She said she had visited the UAE several times before and as the visa had not expired assumed it was still valid.

The immigration officer told her the visa was valid for a single visit and said she had to buy a ticket and return to London immediately.

Dr Holman says she pleaded with the ‘dismissive and rude’ official to allow her to apply for a new visa at the airport telling him her daughter was exhausted.

She says says she and Bibi were ordered to sleep in a canteen area used by other inmates.

 Dr Holman, pictured with Suri, has been told she may have to spend up to a year in the Arab state while the case is settled

 Dr Holman, pictured with Suri, has been told she may have to spend up to a year in the Arab state while the case is settled

 Dr Holman, pictured with Suri, has been told she may have to spend up to a year in the Arab state while the case is settled

Her partner Gary, pictured with their children, flew out to Dubai to bring their daughter back to Kent but she has had her passport confiscated

Her partner Gary, pictured with their children, flew out to Dubai to bring their daughter back to Kent but she has had her passport confiscated

Her partner Gary, pictured with their children, flew out to Dubai to bring their daughter back to Kent but she has had her passport confiscated

Mr Holman said the experience had been 'devastating' for her children, pictured, and said he hopes they are reunited with their mother soon

Mr Holman said the experience had been 'devastating' for her children, pictured, and said he hopes they are reunited with their mother soon

Mr Holman said the experience had been ‘devastating’ for her children, pictured, and said he hopes they are reunited with their mother soon

She claims the room’s lights were kept on and with no air conditioning she said it was ‘baking hot and foul smelling.’

She said the male guards offered no help as, exhausted and shocked by her experience, she struggled to lift the mattress. The guards stood by and laughed, she claimed.

‘My daughter is a happy, smiley girl, but she was terrified,’ she said.

The terrified pair arrived at a police building where she says a man in a dirty white lab coat said he was going to take a sample of her blood as evidence she had drunk alcohol.

She was told the results showed 0.04% of alcohol in her blood – a reading far below the UK drink drive limit.

During their detention the pair did not eat.

‘The food smelled like rotting garbage and neither Bibi or I could face trying it. I stayed awake for the whole three days,’ she said.

She claims they were also denied a pillow or a change of clothing and Dr Holman was forced to clean toilets and mop the floor while her daughter stood by her side.

She said Bibi was in a state of shock and refused to be comforted.

Back at their home in Kent, partner Gary was frantic with worry, as he had not heard from the pair.

Dr Holman said: ‘Friends had found out I was in jail and tried to visit. Nobody was allowed to see us. We were not told.’

Gary flew to Dubai leaving the couple’s other children Suri, nine, and Noah, aged eight, with relatives.

Dr Holman said her daughter Bibi, pictured, was inconsolable during the ordeal and she tried to comfort her by reading her books in the jail

Dr Holman said her daughter Bibi, pictured, was inconsolable during the ordeal and she tried to comfort her by reading her books in the jail

Dr Holman said her daughter Bibi, pictured, was inconsolable during the ordeal and she tried to comfort her by reading her books in the jail

Dr Holman, pictured with son Noah, said conditions in the cell were 'filthy, foul-smelling and baking hot'

Dr Holman, pictured with son Noah, said conditions in the cell were 'filthy, foul-smelling and baking hot'

Dr Holman, pictured with son Noah, said conditions in the cell were ‘filthy, foul-smelling and baking hot’

Following her detention Dr Holman was taken in handcuffs back to airport and given bail.

Bibi and her father have now been allowed to fly back to the UK while Dr Holman is staying with friends in Dubai.

Gary said the experience of seeing his partner and daughter jailed was ‘devastating for the whole family.’

‘The thought of Ellie and our little girl in that awful prison breaks my heart.

‘Ellie is a sensible, professional person and excellent mother who would never knowingly break the law.

‘Why do Emirates Airlines serve alcohol for a passenger to drink and then pass through the airport.

‘This has been devastating for the whole family. Ellie was taking a much needed break with little Bibi, who was looking forward to the beach and playing in the sea.

‘I hope this can all be over so we can all be together again and start to heal.’

Emirates Airlines offers wine on flights from the UK to Dubai as standard practice (file picture)

Emirates Airlines offers wine on flights from the UK to Dubai as standard practice (file picture)

Emirates Airlines offers wine on flights from the UK to Dubai as standard practice (file picture)

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained In Dubai, the British human rights NGO representing Ellie said in a statement: ‘The UAE maintains a deliberately misleading façade that alcohol consumption is perfectly legal for visitors.

‘This is exampled by bars at the airport, by hotels, restaurants and clubs serving drinks. Tourists cannot be blamed for believing that the Emirates are tolerant of Western drinking habits but this is far from reality.

‘It is wholly illegal for any tourist to have any level of alcohol in their blood. It is illegal to consume alcohol at a bar, a hotel and a restaurant and if breathalysed, that person will be jailed.’

Detained in Dubai replied to a tweet by Jeremy Clarkson who posted a picture of himself with a glass of white wine on an Emirates flight saying: “Finally, a holiday’ – by tweeting: ‘#EllieHolman was jailed with her four-year-old and charged with alcohol consumption for having a glass of complimentary red wine served by @emirates #Emirates airline. Her blood reading was only .04%, under the legal driving limit.’




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