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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 13:27 GMT
Top diplomat takes up Britons' case
Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh
The Saudi press have linked the arrests to bombs in Riyadh
Five Britons arrested for an alleged bootleg alcohol racket in Saudi Arabia are to have their case taken up by the head of the UK diplomatic service.

Permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, Sir John Kerr, will visit the capital Riyadh in the next few days to discuss their plight with senior Saudi officials, said Foreign Office Minister John Battle.

Reports in the Saudi press have linked the arrests, at the start of December, with three bombings in November and December in which one Briton died and four others were injured.

Sir John Kerr
Sir John Kerr will visit Riyadh

They suggested that Saudi police believe the bombings were part of a turf war between rival bootlegging gangs.

Mr Battle told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Whether or not there is a link with the bombings remains to be seen.

"There has only been one arrest confirmed by the Saudis, a US national, in direct connection with these bombings.

"It is for them to comment on the bombing investigations."

Mr Battle added that the Foreign Office is in close contact with Saudi ministers about the case and has received good co-operation from police in Riyadh.

The arrested men are Ron Yates, Paul Moss, Ken Hartley, David Mornin and Kelvin Hawkins.

Access has been granted to four of them and the fifth will soon be visited by consular staff after a delay caused by the Muslim holiday of Eid.

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See also:

18 Dec 00 | Scotland
UK police probe Saudi bombs
16 Dec 00 | Middle East
Saudi bombers 'must be caught soon'
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