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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Diplomatic row over Britons facing lash
Saudi map
A diplomatic row is brewing after four British men were jailed and sentenced to lashes in Saudi Arabia for illegal alcohol trading.

Robin Cook has asked Britain's ambassador to ensure the floggings do not happen.

The foreign secretary said the punishment was an infringement of human rights.

Kelvin Hawkins, believed to be from Lancaster, was sentenced to 500 lashes and jailed for two-and-a-half years when he appeared in court in the capital Riyadh on 26 May.

His son-in-law David Mornin was sentenced to 300 lashes, jailed for one year and fined 40,000 Riyals, about 7,400.

Paul Moss, believed to be a 31-year-old from Merseyside, was sentenced to 500 lashes and jailed for two years.

Our embassy visited the men last week and is seeking access to them again as soon as possible

Foreign Office
Another Briton, Ken Hartley was earlier sentenced to 300 lashes and two-and-a-half years.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that it was thought the sentences were subject to review and the men may appeal.

They may also ask for the lashes to be commuted in exchange for longer jail sentences.

Families contacted

"Our embassy visited the men last week and is seeking access to them again as soon as possible," she said.

"Our ambassador and his staff in Riyadh are in constant contact with the Saudi authorities at all levels about all these cases."

Alcohol trading is banned in Saudi under Islamic law.

The men were arrested in December last year.

The Foreign Office in London
The Foreign Office is monitoring the situation
Their arrests coincided with a string of bomb attacks, which have been linked to a feud over the lucrative drinks trade.

Saudi security officials in Riyadh said other foreign nationals would face court proceedings on similar charges.

Another eight Britons are being held, according to reports.

Originally from Greenock in Scotland, Mornin served with Strathclyde fire brigade for nine years, before leaving for Saudia Arabia in 1984 on a two-year contract as a firefighter.

Stephen Jakobi, an expert in legal proceedings abroad and director of Fair Trials Abroad, said recent precedent suggested the lashings would not be carried out.

Last Briton lashed in 1985

His organisation does not have a direct involvement in the cases.

The last Briton to be flogged was John Kelly, from Weymouth, Dorset, who was given 250 lashes in 1985.

Other Britons who have fallen foul of Saudi law include Worcestershire man Russell Parker who was jailed in 1996 for being found with locally brewed beer and cases of spirits.

He was sentenced to one year behind bars and 450 lashes but the flogging was never carried out.

Dundee nurse Lucille McLauchlan was sentenced to 500 lashes and eight years in jail in 1997 after being convicted of being an accomplice in the murder of a colleague.

But she was freed after a payment was made to the victims.

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See also:

08 Feb 01 | Middle East
Getting a drink in Saudi Arabia
05 Feb 01 | Scotland
'Shock' at Saudi bomb arrests
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