A Radio 1 DJ has been jailed for four years in Dubai after admitting to possession of cannabis as he entered the country.
Grooverider, whose real name is Raymond Bingham, was given the sentence for drug possession in the United Arab Emirates after his lawyers unsuccessfully argued that his ignorance of local laws justified a pardon.
The DJ was arrested at Dubai airport on 23 November last year with 2.16g of cannabis in his pocket, which has a street value of about £10, three hours before he was due to play an hour-long set at a show in The Lodge, a nightclub. In court he claimed: "I forgot I had them in my trousers."
A BBC spokesman said: "He made a serious mistake and is paying a very heavy price." Though the two-hour show he had co-hosted with Fabio has continued to broadcast on Sundays on Radio 1, Grooverider has not been on air since his arrest. In an interview published while he was in jail, he said: "I just want this to end and to never come back. It was a small amount. Back home I would not even get prosecuted."
He is the latest in a long list of Western tourists whose legal indiscretions, whether born of ignorance or not, have led to severe punishment. Earlier this month, Keith Brown, a 43-year-old youth worker from the West Midlands, was jailed for four years after customs officials who stopped him on his way through Dubai airport found a speck of cannabis weighing 0.003g – invisible to the naked eye and lighter than a grain of sugar – on the bottom of his shoe.
A 25-year-old Briton who was found with a similarly sized speck as he arrived on holiday has been awaiting sentence since November. Robert Dalton, from Gravesend in Kent, is also likely to receive four years in jail after traces of the illegal drug were found in a small ball of fluff in his pocket.
Bert Tatham, a Canadian UN official who advised the Afghanistan government on opium production, was jailed last year for carrying 0.5g of hashish – a form of cannabis – and two poppy seeds. He was later pardoned and deported to Canada.
Drugs are strictly outlawed in the Gulf state, which is visited by more than a million Britons every year, many of them of Asian ethnic heritage. Highly sensitive new technology has recently been installed in Dubai airport to enforce the zero-tolerance code.
The Foreign Office says that nine British nationals have already been detained in Dubai so far this year, while 57 were detained on drug-related charges last year.
Grooverider is likely to be deported after serving his sentence. Together with Fabio, his close friend and colleague, he was involved early on in the transfer of drum '*' bass from a little-known niche genre into one of the more commercially successful and mainstream forms of dance music.
After making their reputations at illegal raves in the late 1980s and on the pirate radio station Phase One, the pair won residencies at club nights in venues such as Heaven in London. Grooverider is also known as a recording artist and record label-owner in his own right. He runs Prototype Recordings.Reuse content