UK

Gay Briton Michael Halliday Wins Court Fight To Avoid Extradition To Dubai On Theft Charge

22/12/2015 21:13 GMT | Updated 22/12/2016 10:12 GMT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cars pass by the city skyline with the Burj Khalifa, world tallest tower in background, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates has slashed gasoline subsidies, announcing Tuesday that it will raise the cost of a liter of regular gasoline by 24 percent amid globally low oil prices that have cut into the country's revenues. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

A gay Briton has won his battle to avoid being extradited to the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is illegal.

Michael Halliday, 32, who faces a theft charge in Dubai, feared mistreatment if he was sent back.

A judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court ruled that Mr Halliday should not be extradited.

Mr Halliday said in a statement quoted by The Guardian newspaper: "I have been through a distressing eight months of uncertainty not knowing if I would face extradition to UAE to face accusations that I firmly believe I can prove I am not guilty of.

"It is not the clearing of my name that I feared. It was more a serious question as to whether there was a realistic prospect of me being able to prove my innocence at trial given the UAE's unfair justice system (has a) poor track record in (its) treatment of foreign prisoners and particularly members of the LGBT community.

"Thankfully, after today's outcome, I can now continue my life without fear of the prospect of extradition."

Gay sex is punishable by death according to UAE federal law and carries a 10-year prison term in Dubai.

Mr Halliday, from the Midlands, is reportedly accused of taking money from a safe at a department store where he worked as an operations manager.

The UAE made formal request for his extradition in June last year.

The Guardian quoted District Judge Jeremy Coleman saying in his ruling: "The trial, treatment and conditions of those accused or convicted of criminal offences in the UAE is still the subject of complaint and is often alleged to fall well below the required standards ... Taking into account Mr Halliday's own circumstances, I cannot be satisfied that he would not be at significant risk."

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: "We are carefully considering the judgment."