A property investor claims she was arrested in Dubai and forced to take a blood test after cabin crew falsely accused her of taking cocaine on a flight.
Caren Harmon, 43, was flying with Emirates from London to Johannesburg for a friend’s engagement party but when she disembarked at Dubai International for a connecting flight police were waiting for her.
Cabin crew pointed her out to officers and she was detained for more than three hours, forced to give a blood test, had her baggage searched and missed her connecting flight to the party.
She said she was given no warning during the flight, on Tuesday, May 9, and was not given a proper explanation for why the plane’s crew had called police.
Miss Harmon, who lives in Shepherds Bush, west London, said: ‘They just kept saying to me “you know exactly what you’ve done wrong.”
‘The only explanation they gave me was that I was seen looking through my bag, sniffing my nose and touching my nose, which is quite normal on a long flight with air conditioning.
‘They implied to the police that I had been taking cocaine, as if I would do something like that. I was terrified.
‘I didn’t get a warning on the plane, there was no sign they had done anything until we had landed and then four police dressed in black were there waiting for me. I had ordered some red wine on the plane but didn’t drink it because I fell asleep for five hours.
‘They kept just saying “we know what you have done on the plane”.’
Police escorted Miss Harmon to baggage reclaim after telling her they would need to check her luggage for illegal substances.
‘Then when they found nothing in my bag they tested my blood,’ she said.
‘Medical staff took my blood pressure and took my blood, they put a needle in me.
‘I assumed it was testing for drugs but they never even said what they were doing.
‘They just kept saying I was touching my nose and sniffing, as if that was enough justification for treating someone like this.
‘I was so shaken I didn’t even think to refuse.’
Miss Harmon, who is of dual British and South African nationality, said when her test results came back negative she was then told she could end up in jail because of the ‘illegal’ prescription pills she had taken on the flight.
She had taken Xanor, also known as alprazolam and commonly taken to treat anxiety, to calm her nerves and help her sleep on the flight.
‘Lots of people travel with sleeping pills or medicine on a long haul flight,’ Miss Harmon said.
‘They said if you don’t have a prescription and have pills you can go to jail for up to six years.
‘I was horrified and started freaking out. I thought I would go to jail over a sleeping pill. After everything else I had just been through.
‘Eventually after about three-and-a-half hours they made me sign something in Arabic with no translation and let me go. I was crying like a baby at this point.
‘I let them do whatever they wanted, I just wanted to get out of there.’
Miss Harmon missed her original flight to Johannesburg and was able to catch another with no extra charge.
‘I upgraded myself to business class using my air miles for the next flight,’ she said.
‘I just couldn’t face being around people in the state I was in.’