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British woman languishes in Egyptian jail for carrying painkillers



Tourists visit the Great Pyramid of Cheops on May 28, 2011 in Giza, Egypt Egyptian authorities have detained a British woman who entered the country carrying painkillers.

Laura Plummer, 33, a shop worker who lives in Hull, was arrested after 290 tramadol tablets and some naproxen for her husband’s sore back was found in her suitcase.

She then reportedly signed her name beneath a 38-page statement in Arabic, upon request, believing she would be able to leave the airport afterwards and begin her two-week break by Red Sea.

Instead, she was put into a cramped cell with 25 other women, where she has remained for almost a month.

Tramadol is legal in Britain although users must have a prescription due to its high potency, but it is illegal in Egypt and it is known to be used as a heroin substitute.

A Red Sea resort. Laura Palmer was heading for a holiday there when she was detained. Plummer visits her Egyptian husband, who suffers back pain since having an accident, two to four times a year.

Her family believe she is being held on suspicion of what Egyptian authorities consider drug trafficking. They have been told that she may face up to 25 years in jail. It has also been reported that one lawyer has mooted the possibility of the death penalty.

She had no idea she was doing anything wrong, said her mother Roberta. The painkillers were placed at the top of her suitcase; she wasn’t hiding them.

After being apprehended by the authorities, she texted her father, Nevile, and said: I’m in trouble and I need your help.

However, when he attempted to reply, the message could not be delivered because her phone was turned off. He is reported to have since spent £10,000 on legal bills.

It’s just blown out of proportion completely, her brother, James Plummer, told the Press Association. She’s so by the book, so routine, she just likes her own home comforts, watches Emmerdale every night or things like that, going to bed at nine o’clock every night.

Her mother and sisters have travelled to Egypt to visit Laura since her arrest on 9 October.

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They say she’s unrecognisable, said Mr Plummer. When they seen her, she’s like a zombie, they said.

He said her hair was starting to fall out due to stress and he doubted whether she could cope. “I don’t think she’s tough enough to survive it,” he said. “She has a phobia of using anybody else’s toilet, so let alone sharing a toilet and a floor with everybody else. That will be awful for her; it’ll be traumatising.

It’s awful for Laura … she’s not a tough person at all. She’s only small.

She is due back in court on Thursday, for her third hearing. It has been alleged that on a previous court visit she was handcuffed to a policeman armed with a machine gun.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: We are supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in Egypt.

Conservatives draw up code of conduct to tackle harassment and abuse

Theresa May has unveiled a new party code of conduct guaranteeing an independent voice in investigations of abuse and harassment, as both the Conservatives and Labour faced pressure over whether they had failed victims.

The code was revealed by May in a letter to the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, about her party’s plans to tackle the issue, following claims that have led to the resignation of one minister, Michael Fallon, and left two others facing investigations.

She said parties had a role to play, but it cannot be right when dealing with serious issues relating to behaviour in parliament that vulnerable or concerned people are expected to navigate different grievance procedures according to political party.

May added: Neither can it be right that such difficult issues themselves are dealt with on a party political basis, or that no support should be provided for those with no political or party affiliation.

The new Conservative code applies to MPs, peers, MEPs, members of the Scottish, Welsh and London assemblies, police and crime commissioners, elected mayors, councillors and party officials, the letter explains.

The code compels those covered by its rules to take reasonable steps to ensure that people who want to complain about harassment, bullying or discrimination are able to do so. There is an email address and phone number to which complaints can be made.

Harassment is defined as “any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive situation or environment for them.

The code states that inquiries should be conducted by a panel of three or more people, at least one of whom should be independent of the Conservatives.

Fallon resigned on Wednesday, in part because he was accused of behaving inappropriately towards his cabinet colleague Andrea Leadsom.

Damian Green, the first secretary of state and May’s deputy, and trade minister Mark Garnier face inquires as to whether they breached the ministerial code over allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Green vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

May’s spokesman said he could not give running commentary on the investigations, but said the prime minister was committed to dealing with the issue.

We have been clear of the necessity for an environment where people feel they can work in Westminster safely, and also feel that if they suffer harassment that they can make a complaint about that and that the complaint will be treated seriously, he said.

May is due to meet the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Westminster leaders of other parties on Monday to discuss how to respond. In her letter, she stressed the need for a unified approach.

Corbyn faced pressure to explain why he put Kelvin Hopkins in his shadow cabinet last year, after a young party activist had formally expressed concerns about his behaviour.

Hopkins, the Luton North MP, remains suspended from Labour pending an investigation into claims that he acted inappropriately and sent suggestive texts to a party activist. On Friday night, Hopkins said he absolutely and categorically denied allegations of inappropriate conduct made by Ava Etemadzadeh, 27.

She said she had complained about Hopkins to the Labour whips about three years ago and she was deeply disappointed when she learned he had been made shadow culture secretary in July last year, a post he held for three months.

It is understood that Etemadzadeh complained about inappropriate text messages and that the then-chief whip Rosie Winterton reprimanded Hopkins and told Corbyn’s office.

Labour said it suspended Hopkins following new allegations. Etemadzadeh told the Telegraph that he hugged her very tightly and rubbed himself against her at a Labour event in 2013.

Etemadzadeh told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One that her complaint was taken seriously by Winterton, but it was ignored by Corbyn’s office.

I’m very disillusioned because just a few months later I realised that Jeremy Corbyn had promoted Kelvin Hopkins to the shadow cabinet despite the fact that the leader’s office was aware of this.

Labour’s new code says complaints should be reviewed by a panel appointed by the national executive committee.

Jasmin Beckett, who represents Young Labour on the NEC, has written to Corbyn to complain that the code makes no attempt to look at the possibility of an independent body to deal with sensitive complaints going forward.

In a later announcement, Labour said the independent specialist organisation would offer support and support complaints through the party’s procedures, and it had appointed a QC, Karon Monaghan, to investigate its handling of the case of Bex Bailey. The young party activist said she was raped by a senior party member and then discouraged by a Labour official from reporting it.


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