Mother Ellie Holman ‘held in Dubai for three days after one glass of wine on flight’

Ellie Holman was detained with her daughter Bibi, it is claimed (Detained in Dubai/PA) Credit: Press Association Images

A mother had been detained in Dubai for three days with her four-year-old daughter after drinking a complimentary glass of wine on a flight from London, it is claimed.

Swedish dentist Ellie Holman, who lives in Kent with her English partner Gary and their three children, was initially denied water and made to clean toilets while in custody, according to human rights group Detained in Dubai.

The 44-year-old was arrested on July 13 after having one glass of wine on her eight-hour Emirates Airline flight to Dubai from London, a statement from the group said.

She was taken into custody after an immigration official questioned her about her visa and asked if she had consumed alcohol.

Bibi Holman had to go to the toilet on the cell floor, her mother said. Credit: PA

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) formed to help people held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it is representing the woman and her daughter Bibi, who was "terrified" by the experience.

The CEO of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling said on Twitter: "British tourists who like even one glass of wine should avoid Dubai entirely. Imagine a 5 day holiday turning into months of years."

The group said Ellie and Bibi were travelling to Dubai for a five-day break to visit friends, having visited a number of times before.

The dentist now faces being detained in Dubai for up to a year while awaiting a court hearing.

In a statement from the group, Holman claims the guards tried to rip out her hair extensions and described the prison as hot and "foul smelling".

She said: "My little girl had to go to the toilet on the cell floor. I have never heard her cry in the same way as she did in that cell.

After landing she was questioned by an immigration official, who said her visa was invalid and she must return to London immediately, the group said.

Holman said he was "dismissive and rude" when she asked if she could buy another visa, and was then questioned about alcohol consumption – which she admitted.

It is claimed Ellie Holman was hailed for 3 days after drinking a complimentary glass of wine on flight. Credit: PA

"The food (we were given) smelled like rotting garbage and neither Bibi or I could face trying it. I stayed awake for the whole three days.

"Gary knew something was wrong and had flown to Dubai to look for me. Friends had found out I was in jail and tried to visit."

She was released on bail and told her passport has been confiscated until the case is concluded. She said she has lost more than £30,000 in legal fees and missed work.

Holman is now spending time with her other children Suri and Noah, who have flown out to Dubai to see her while Gary returns home with Bibi.

Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said: "Tourists cannot be blamed for believing that the Emirates are tolerant of Western drinking habits, but this is far from reality.

"It is wholly illegal for any tourist to have any level of alcohol in their blood, even if consumed in flight and provided by Dubai’s own airline. It is illegal to consume alcohol at a bar, a hotel and a restaurant and if breathalysed, that person will be jailed."

Stirling called on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the UK Government generally to do more to "protect" British nationals, and claimed airlines needed to be held "accountable".

The FCO and Emirates have been contacted for comment.