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Saudi Arabia (Detained British Subjects)

Volume 957: debated on Tuesday 7 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he can arrange for legal aid to be given to Mr. Ken Bottoms, a bosun from Dagenham, and other seamen imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

Where, as in Saudi Arabia there are no local legal aid facilities, my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider the advance of public funds to meet essential legal costs where the detainees cannot do so out of their own resources and where funds are not available from any other private source such as relatives, friends, employers or charitable organisations. No request for legal aid has been received from Mr. Bottoms and the other imprisoned seamen. If they so wish, they may make such a request through the British consul. The decision on whether funds should be advanced would be influenced by such factors as the gravity of the possible sentence and the likelihood that the availability of legal advice would significantly affect the outcome of the trial. The detainees would be required to undertake to repay any public funds advanced.