I have been following Jim Fitton’s case with concern and my thoughts are with Mr Fitton and his family, for whom this will be a very distressing time.
On 6 June, Mr Fitton was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to transport small pottery fragments out of the country ‘with criminal intent’. I know that Mr Fitton denies any wrongdoing, believing that the fragments had no economic or historical value. I am also aware that another individual who was arrested at the same time as Mr Fitton, and faced the same charge, was acquitted.
The Government has said that the British Ambassador in Baghdad has and will continue to raise Mr Fitton’s case with the Iraqi Government. However, I know that Mr Fitton’s family continue to raise concerns about the level of support and contact they have received from the Foreign Office and Ministers.
In May, prior to Mr Fitton’s trial, my colleague the Shadow Minister for the Middle East called on the Government to take urgent action to resolve Mr Fitton’s case and to engage with his family. It is disappointing that these calls were seemingly ignored. The Government should do all they can to protect British citizens who are wrongfully detained abroad.
I understand that Mr Fitton is appealing the verdict. I can assure you that I will continue to follow his case and the Government’s response with interest.