A Good Start on our British Problem

It's good to know that those alert authorities at JFK are taking no chances with dangerous visiting British accountants. You never know what they might do in New York — maybe go shopping and reduce the trade deficit a little.

Briton 'in chains at JFK airport over bogus debt' (UK Telegraph, reg. required): An accountant claims that he was kept for more than 24 hours in “leg chains” and denied food and water after flying into New York's JFK airport with his wife.

David Pattison, 52, of Beeston, Norfolk, was held by US security officials because an Interpol notice alleged that he was wanted in Qatar for debts of up to $10,000 (£5,800).

He was deported on Monday night without having been allowed to enter America.

Mr Pattison, who disputes the alleged debt, said he was subjected to “inhumane and degrading” treatment by the US authorities and a “lack of assistance” by the Foreign Office.

He arrived at the airport's immigration control on Sunday afternoon, at what was to have been the start of a two-week holiday with his wife, Janice, 49, the mother of their six children.

There he was told of the Interpol notice. Mr Pattison worked for an oil company in the Gulf state in 1999 but denies that he left behind any debts. Although about $5,000 (£2,900) had been outstanding on a car he used for work, this was settled after the agreed sale of the vehicle in 2000.

“This was the first I had heard of any warrant against me, and I have travelled all over Europe since 1999,” said Mr Pattison.

“I told the US officials I had a letter at home to prove all matters in Qatar had been settled but they were not interested.”

Mr Pattison was then told he would not be allowed into the country and would be deported. “I requested a call to the British consulate in New York and I spoke to a man who refused to give his surname. He said he couldn't help because I hadn't been admitted to the country and I was in limbo.

“But that is exactly when British subjects in a situation such as mine need assistance. God knows what it would have been like had we been travelling with our children.”

Mr Pattison claims his wife was then escorted out of the room in tears and left to fend for herself. He said cuffs were placed on his hands and ankles and that a wooden restraint was put across his chest.

“I was escorted to a facility with no food or drink and my angina medication was locked away from me. I was placed with eight other unfortunates, two of whom were also British, but we weren't allowed to speak to each other.

“We begged for water but the [Department for Homeland Security] staff just sat there eating hamburgers. There was nowhere to wash or sleep and I observed verbal abuse by US immigration personnel to most of these people.”

It's especially important to be tough on Britons as we would not want them to think that their government's supporting the Administration in Iraq should give them any right to the decent treatment we deny to foreigners from other countries. And you certainly wouldn't want to let in people with debts, especially not big debts like up to $10,000. Especially not an accountant who racked up debts like that. Why, it's not as if Americans were ever in debt!

It's also important to discourage tourism to New York, as there will soon be a Republican convention there and we'll need all the hotel rooms and lots of space for drunken parties on the streets.

Oddly, the government of Quatar claimed to have no knowledge of the warrant for Mr. Patterson, but they're from the Middle East, so why believe them?

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One Response to A Good Start on our British Problem

  1. cyberbug says:

    You are getting good at irony Mike – British understatement at its best.

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