The Brits who were locked up in Dubai for CBD oil and sending rude WhatsApps

Radha Stirling
4 min readFeb 18, 2022


(Image: Detained in Dubai)

Dubai is one of the most glamorous holiday destinations in the world but for some tourists their holiday of a lifetime turned into a holiday from hell.

The United Arab Emirates country has notoriously strict laws in place and many tourists may unintentionally break the rules without knowing

Should they be caught in the act, it can get pretty ugly with some unfortunate Brits being handed large prison sentences in an instant.

In the last year alone, five British people were locked up in the country for crimes as petty as sending rude WhatsApp messages.

This is what happened to each of them.

Billy Hood

Football coach Billy Hood, 25, was arrested in January 2021 by police for “unintentionally possessing” CBD vape oil in the United Arab Emirates country.

After being detained for the year and forced to sign a confession in Arabic, Billy was given a 25-year sentence which was then reduced to 10 years on appeal.

At the time of his arrest, Billy was working as a football coach in the country but remains in prison despite the crime he was convicted of now only being punishable by deportation.

Shockingly while the Duke of Cambridge was meeting with UAE diplomats in Dubai and Abu Dhabi earlier this month (February 10), Billy was allegedly attacked by Emirati authorities, according to non-profit organisation Detained in Dubai.

According to Detained in Dubai, Billy has been isolated in a tiny cell that could fit only a mattress and is said to have hit the wall in frustration.

Four prison guards are then alleged to have opened his cell and repeatedly beat him, causing him to bleed.

Reports have also claimed that Billy was previously beaten and tasered and forced to confess.

He remains in custody in the country.

William Norman Meyerhoff

British great-grandfather William Norman Meyerhoff, who has dementia, was locked up in Dubai over bounced cheques he said he didn’t write.

It was reported last month that the 72-year-old is set to be released after officials admitted they made ‘’mistakes’’.

Meyerhoff, originally from Grimsby, Lincs., was held by officials during a transit stop on a flight bound for Australia in May 2021.

His family said he worked in Dubai over a decade ago but never had any issues there, but authorities told him there were 38 criminal cases against him.

The charges relate to cheques falsely made in his name by owners of a company he used to work for — which he denies knowledge off.

Woman imprisoned for sending ‘f*** you’ WhatsApp message

A British woman was detained in Dubai and faced being locked up for two years for sending a ‘f*** you’ WhatsApp message to her flatmate in early 2021.

The 31-year-old HR manager was detained as she tried to leave Dubai on January 30 after her flatmate complained to local police about her offensive message.

The pair had reportedly been arguing about the use of their dining room table while working from home during the pandemic.

Officers arrested the woman on suspicion of breaking UAE cyber laws, however she was let off with a £600 fine, The Sun reports.

It was reported she was ‘relieved’ to be back at her parents’ home in Gloucester and ready to move on from the ‘traumatic’ episode.

Luke Tully

British chef Luke Tully claims he was thrown in jail for 19 months in Dubai after police thought a customer booking a table was a secret code for a drugs deal.

The chef was working at a restaurant in the city when he was sent a text message by a dealer he knew requesting a table for 10 people.

When the dealer was arrested, police seized his phone and read the message to 43-year-old Mr Tully, believing the message was code for a drug deal for 10g of cocaine.

The dad-of-four even claimed police officers had threatened to throw him off a balcony unless he “told them where the drugs were” before he was thrown in a cell for more than a year.

Mr Tully claims to have spent £150,000 on legal fees and is now back home in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, after the case was thrown out when a judge ruled there was not enough evidence.

In a message to fellow Brits planning to visit the UAE, he said: “Don’t bother if you value your liberty.”

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Albert Douglas

Londoner Albert Douglas, 60, was incarcerated in Dubai in 2021 over bounced cheques he didn’t write.

He was handed a £2.5 million fine after his son Wolfgang’s company failed in 2019, despite committing no crime and having no role with the firm.

Albert lost an appeal and tried to flee the prison with the help of people smugglers, but he was caught at the border and given a three-year sentence.

The long-term expat had a successful business in Dubai and was said to have loved the city until the unfortunate circumstances which landed him in prison.

In September 2021 Detained in Dubai reported Albert was admitted to a Dubai hospital for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder sustained in prison.

He remains in custody.

Originally published at on February 18, 2022.



Radha Stirling

Criminal & Civil Justice Specialist, Expert Witness, Founder & CEO of Detained in Dubai, Due Process International, Gulf in Justice Podcast, Princess Latifa Org