Manchester

Plane spotter's wife 'disappointed' by UK government's response

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Media captionConrad Clitheroe's wife and Gary Cooper's son spoke to BBC Breakfast

The wife of a British plane spotter who is being held in the United Arab Emirates has said she is "disappointed" by the UK government's response.

Conrad Clitheroe, 54, Neil Munro and Gary Cooper, 45, were reportedly making notes about aircraft near Fujairah Airport, near Dubai.

The three, all from Greater Manchester, were arrested on 22 February over allegations of suspicious behaviour.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was giving consular help.

Valerie Clitheroe told BBC Radio Manchester her husband Conrad and his friends were visiting Fujairah Airport as part of a plane-spotting trip.

"I know they weren't taking pictures, which is what they don't like out there, but they were noting down plane numbers, which isn't illegal."

'National security issue'

Gary Cooper's son Adam said: "At the moment, what we understand is they were originally arrested for taking photographs and also for recording the actual registrations.

"We are now being told that it is being blanketed as a national security issue, which clearly doesn't help anybody."

He said he had emailed a law firm in the UAE which had been recommended by the FCO.

That company, Mr Cooper said, asked him to transfer $30,000 (£19,518) upfront before it could start work on the case.

Mrs Clitheroe said: "I think it's a common misconception that the Foreign Office will sort it for you... that's not how it works, you have to do it, you have to go out and do the groundwork yourself.

"They will contact the local consulate and they'll make sure that things are being done above board. But you're not actually going to get anywhere else, you have got to go out and do it yourself, which is what we're doing."

She said they hoped to appoint a lawyer in the UAE soon, adding that the three arrested men were "quite distressed".

Adam Cooper said the trio were being held in "a big cell" with about 20 people.

"The good thing is that all three of them are together but they're on concrete beds. The food is very basic … and it's absolutely nothing like conditions over here.

"A lot of people don't speak any English either, which is obviously going to make it a lot harder and everything just takes so much time - even simple things like getting toiletries are just near-on impossible by all accounts."

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