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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 20:58 GMT
'Kidnap' mother has 'no regrets'
Sarra Fotheringham with Tariq
Sarra says she was denied access to Tariq
A British woman charged with kidnapping after trying to take her 10-year-old son out of Dubai says she has 'no regrets'.

Sarra Fotheringham told the BBC she was forced to act because the billionaire father of 10-year-old Tariq was keeping them apart.

She said: "I can't regret trying to be with my son, I had no access to him whatsoever, I was just trying to be with him".

If you think of the worst case scenario you'll just cry and do nothing

Sarra Fotheringham
Mrs Fotheringham, faces up to three years in jail after being caught as she tried to board a ship bound for Iraq with Tariq on Monday.

Fellow Briton Donna al Nahi was charged with acting as an accomplice and the Dubai authorities are expected to decide whether or not to press charges on Sunday at the earliest.

The women have been offered bail and there are reports that Tariq's father Rashid Al-Habtoor, who denies preventing access, has offered to act as guarantor.

'Worst case'

Asked how she was coping Mrs Fotheringham said she was shocked and "very upset" but "just waiting to see what happens".

She said she was not thinking about the possibility of being given a prison sentence, and told reporters: "There's no point at this point in time.

Tariq Fotheringham
Tariq's father is a billionaire from Dubai
"If you think of the worst case scenario you'll just cry and do nothing, so at the moment we're just facing one thing at a time."

Mrs Fotheringham's husband Neil is planning to fly to Dubai on Thursday to be with her.

The 32-year-old said a poignant e-mail from Tariq had sparked his wife's attempt to snatch him: "We sent Rashid a fax at Christmas time with an e-mail that we had from Tariq, where he pleaded to his mummy to come out and see him while he was on his Christmas holidays.

"We sent that to Rashid with a request to come out and he wouldn't let Sarra come out."

'More than welcome'

Mr Al-Habtoor had earlier told BBC Radio 4 he would try and help the boy's mother "out of this mess".

He said he had never stopped Mrs Fotheringham from trying to see her son under supervision and added: "He never wanted to go back to her or go back to the UK.

"She's more than welcome any time to come and see him, but under supervision."

Tariq was born in the UK after Mrs Fotheringham, a former air hostess, had an affair Mr al-Habtoor while working in the Gulf state in 1991, four years before she married.

His father won a lengthy custody battle in Dubai after he refused to allow the boy to leave with his family after a visit two years ago.

But UK courts have ruled in the Fotheringhams favour and Mrs Fotheringham's husband has adopted the boy.

'Previous abductions'

Donna al-Nahi, who has been charged as an accomplice, is a British mother-of-four who married an Iraqi.

She reportedly decided to help in the alleged "abduction" attempt after hearing about Mrs Fotheringham's plight on television.

The Mirror newspaper said Mrs al-Nahi had been involved in more than 20 "abductions" of children on behalf of parents in countries including Libya, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

The BBC's James Westhead
"Sarra's husband Neil is preparing to fly out"
Mrs Al-Nahi's husband Mahmoud
"I hope they release her soon"
Sarra Fotheringham's husband Neil
"She had been denied all contact to him"
Avan Wadia of Prisoners Abroad
"Generally the conditions in Dubai are not so bad"
See also:

13 Mar 02 | Middle East
Tug-of-love father offers help
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Tug-of-love mother feels 'horrific'
05 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
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