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Tug-of-love mum still held

PUBLISHED: 02:45 13 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:32 03 March 2010

A British woman was still being held in the United Arab Emirates after she tried to smuggle her son out of the country and back to the UK.

Sarra Fotheringham, 34, was detained in Dubai on Monday afternoon as she tried to board a ship bound for Iraq with her 10-year-old son, Tariq.

A British woman was still being held in the United Arab Emirates after she tried to smuggle her son out of the country and back to the UK.

Sarra (correct) Fotheringham, 34, was detained in Dubai on Monday afternoon as she tried to board a ship bound for Iraq with her 10-year-old son, Tariq.

The boy was born in England after Mrs Fotheringham had an affair with billionaire Rashid Al-Habtoor when she worked in the Gulf state in 1991.

The former air hostess and her husband Neil met when Tariq was eight months old.

They eventually lost a legal battle to Mr Al-Habtoor for custody and the child was taken to live with his father's family in the UAE.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that Mrs Fotheringham contacted British Consulate officials at about 5pm local time to inform them of her arrest at Port Rashid.

"She has subsequently been transferred to Dubai and is being held there in a police station overnight," he said.

"As I understand it, no charges have yet been brought. We are in touch and are seeking access to her.'

Mr Fotheringham, 32, spoke of his fears for his wife's safety and said: "I can't even contemplate what they (the authorities) will do to her. I will deal with it when it comes.

"Sarra has three more children desperate to see her. She's not a criminal, she's a mother who just wants to see her son and they (Rashid's family) stopped her.'

Mr Fotheringham, from Camberley, Surrey, revealed that his wife travelled to Dubai last week with a female friend who is fluent in Arabic.

The pair then took Tariq from his school and intended to drive to neighbouring Qatar before returning to the UK.

But the couple, who were both wearing local dress, could not continue because they had to pass through Saudi Arabia, which bans women from driving, and opted to go by sea.

Mr Fotheringham said his wife insisted on continuing her journey and claimed Tariq was unhappy living in the Gulf.

She telephoned him early Monday afternoon to say she had been detained.

"I've had no more contact from her but I've had phone calls from Arabs saying she's going to spend the rest of her life in prison,' said Mr Fotheringham.

His wife knew the risks before setting out but would not be deterred because every other avenue had been exhausted and she was desperate to be with her son, he explained.

"However much I would love to have Tariq home, having my wife in jail is not a happy ending," he said.

"I have no faith in their legal system at all, no faith in them being reasonable. They haven't been so far."


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