News Comment: Government must act over Southsea grandfather’s arrest in Dubai

Steve Grant, father of Lacey Plato, pictured with his grandchildren Aishah & Faris
Steve Grant, father of Lacey Plato, pictured with his grandchildren Aishah & Faris
The Rev Canon Bob White with representatives of the groups involved in our Christmas campaignh run with churches in Portsmouth - Comfort and Joy

NEWS COMMENT: Dig deep and help to spread some comfort this Christmas

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Lacey Plato is trapped in a nightmare that has just got a whole lot worse.

She has already seen her two children illegally taken from their Portsmouth home during a visit by her estranged partner back in 2012.

Now her father finds himself under house arrest in Dubai after flying to the Gulf to try to see his grandchildren and pass on a video message from their mother.

With Ms Plato denied internet access to 10-year-old Aisha and her seven-year-old brother Faris since last November, Steve Grant was desperate to check they were well and to let them see their mum – if only via an electronic screen.

Instead, he was stopped at the airport in Dubai en route to Oman and taken to a police station.

His passport has been confiscated and his money is running out fast.

You could argue that he is the architect of his own misfortune. Disagreements with the children’s other grandfather, Badar Mohammed Al-Barwani, have led to Mr Al-Barwani accusing Mr Grant of threatening to kill him.

Mr Grant insists their argument, sparked during messages about the children’s future in which he claims Mr Al-Barwani was abusive about his daughter, was merely ‘handbags at dawn’.

But whatever the truth of what exactly was said between them, Mr Grant’s frustration at the situation is entirely understandable.

His daughter has not seen her children for three long years, while their father, Usama Al-Barwani, defied a High Court order to return them to her despite an international arrest warrant. He is now in jail and the children are with their paternal grandmother in Oman.

What concerned grandfather wouldn’t feel the emotional pull of wanting to help his daughter?

A desperate Mr Grant says the British Embassy has told him it cannot get involved in an ongoing police case. But we urge the government to find out why it seems to be dragging on and on. He has been stuck in Dubai for five weeks now, with no end in sight.

A British citizen needs help and the government should not be standing aside while his life is on hold.