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BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson reports
"There has been a crackdown by local police"
 real 56k

Friday, 1 June, 2001, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Scot faces Saudi lashes
David Mornin
David Mornin worked as a firefighter in Greenock
A Scot is among four Britons who face up to 500 lashes in Saudi Arabia for illegal alcohol trading.

The Foreign Office said the men also received jail terms after being found guilty of the offences at a trial in the capital Riyadh.

The four men have been held in Saudi Arabia since before Christmas on suspicion of trading in alcohol, which is banned under Sharia law.

Their arrests coincided with a string of bomb attacks, which have been linked to a feud over the lucrative drinks trade.

Foreign Office in London
The Foreign Office is monitoring the situation
David Mornin, 49, a firefighter from Greenock, has now been sentenced to 300 lashes and a year in jail. He was also fined 40,000 Riyals, about 7,400.

Mornin has lived in Saudi Arabia for the past 16 years, since leaving the Strathclyde Fire Brigade.

He joined the brigade in 1974 and served at Greenock for nine years, before leaving for Saudia Arabia in 1984 on a two year contract as a firefighter.

Mornin's father-in-law, Kelvin Hawkins, was sentenced to 500 lashes and a two-and-a-half year prison term.

Paul Moss received two years and 500 lashes. He is thought to be a 31-year-old from Merseyside.

The three men were sentenced at a trial on 26 May.

Another Briton, Ken Hartley, was earlier sentenced for two-and-a-half years plus 300 lashes.

Sentences commuted

No Britons are believed to have been flogged in Saudi Arabia since the 1980s and families of the men are said to have asked the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, to intervene on their behalf.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said they have long held that corporal punishment is an infringement of human rights, adding that the men could ask for the sentences to be commuted in exchange for longer jail terms.

The spokeswoman said: "Our Embassy visited the men last week and is seeking access to them again as soon as possible.

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

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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