Retired British banker faces up to 7 years in Ugandan jail

Bernard Randell faces seven years in jail. Credit: ITV News

“EXPOSED”. A blazing headline on the front page of a Ugandan tabloid is accompanied by graphic images and salacious details from the sex life of a 65-year old retired British banker.

Bernard Randell was charged with “trafficking obscene publications” after the newspaper printed details of the video found on his laptop.

Randell, who lives between Kampala and Kent, where his two daughters are based, claims the film was unearthed by robbers who stole his laptop and passed the footage to the newspaper. He says the video was made overseas, so doesn't break Ugandan law.

He has, consequently, been revealed as gay in the country that might be the worst place in the world to be homosexual.

Speaking to me inside the suburban compound that he has been too terrified to leave for five days, he says that his fear of jail is exceeded by his anxiety about the public response to his ‘outing’.

“Our worst fear is that we go out and there’s a mob that does something naughty to us – beats us up or even kills us” he says.

His worries are founded upon the violent death of David Kato, a Ugandan activist who was revealed as gay by a newspaper in 2011, and was later beaten to death.

The charge against Randell is not for being gay, though in court he was forced to tell a magistrate that he had not practised in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal.

Though same-sex relationships are already punishable by a severe jail sentence, Ugandan politicians have threatened to make the laws tougher, with some arguing for the death penalty for ‘repeat offenders’.

“If I travel to Britain, I’ve got to abide by the laws of the British” says Solomon Male, a conservative pastor who has argued for Randell’s deportation. Abroad, Male’s attacks might be seen as church-sponsored homophobia. But to many Ugandans, this is an issue of national sovereignty – the right for people here to decide what is moral and what is legal in their country.