Andrew Neal: Former British soldier cleared of supplying drugs in UAE

12 November 2019, 09:17 | Updated: 12 November 2019, 12:35

A former British soldier has been cleared of supplying drugs in the United Arab Emirates, more than a year after he was arrested and detained, his family said.

Andrew Neal, a married father of two who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, is waiting to hear when he will be released.

He has spent the past eight months in a jail in Abu Dhabi after being transferred from a prison in Dubai.

His parents, Maurice and Sue, who live just outside Nottingham, welcomed the verdict, which was delivered by a judge at a court in Abu Dhabi.

"We knew he was innocent," they told Sky News.

"We would like to thank everyone for their support (and) we just want him home."

They said four other defendants in the case were each given 25 years in jail.

Two of them are from Vietnam, one is from the Netherlands and the fourth person is from Pakistan.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has been supporting the Neal family, said: "We are pleased Mr Neal will now be able to reunite with his family.

"Our staff continue to offer advice and support to them, and remain in close contact with his legal team and the UAE authorities."

Dubai police arrested Andrew Neal on 4 October 2018 at his apartment in the city.

His family said he unwittingly signed a confession even though he denied selling drugs.

The veteran's father accused the police of targeting his son because he is English and drives a red Jeep - the same description an accuser allegedly gave to officers when describing a person who sold him drugs.

Mr Neal, who was born in Nottingham and spent 24 years in the army from 1991, moved to Dubai in 2015 with his family to run a dog training business.

He has 14 medals from his time in the army, having served on a number of campaigns including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland.