Kidnap mother set to be freed from Dubai

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The Independent Online

A British mother accused of attempting to snatch back her son from his Arab billionaire father could be home within days after all charges against her were dropped.

Sarra Fotheringham, 34, was arrested earlier this month, along with her friend Donya Al Nahi, 36, as they tried to leave the United Arab Emirates with her 10-year-old son Tariq.

Yesterday the Foreign Office confirmed that Dubai's public prosecutor had withdrawn all charges against the pair. While the matter still requires approval by the Attorney General before their passports can be returned, that was believed to be a formality.

"It is just a question of having it rubber-stamped. It is expected to take a week before they can go," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Tariq's father Rashid Al Habtoor, 35, whose own father Khalaf heads a UAE trading and hotel empire, agreed to the charges being dropped after Mrs Fotheringham, was granted access rights.

She and Mrs Al Nahi, a mother-of-four from Maida Vale, had grabbed the boy as he left school, planning to take him by ship from Dubai to Iraq. But they were apprehended as they tried to board the ship, initially imprisoned but freed on bail two weeks ago. Both faced potential jail sentences with Mrs Fotheringham accused of kidnap and Mrs Al Nahi charged as an accomplice.

The former air hostess, from Camberley, Surrey, became pregnant with Tariq in 1990 following an affair with Mr Al Habtoor, but returned to Britain for her child to be born.

He had no contact with his father in early life and Mrs Fotheringham married a policeman and had three more children. The couple moved to Dubai in 1999 at Mr Al Habtoor's request but were forced to leave four months later after he was granted custody of Tariq. A legal challenge in the UK failed.