100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Trial date for retired British geologist facing smuggling allegations in Iraq
UK ministers have faced fresh pleas to personally raise the case of Jim Fitton with their Iraqi counterparts.
UK Government ‘dragging its feet’ on assisting father detained in Iraq
BRITISH officials have repeatedly raised the case of a retired geologist at risk of being executed in Iraq, the Government…
Case of retired geologist held in Iraq raised repeatedly, minister says
Father-of-two Jim Fitton has been detained in Iraq for more than six weeks.
Jim Fitton: Government urged to stop ‘nightmare’ of Briton facing death penalty in Iraq
‘I am deeply concerned by the nature of the Foreign Office’s engagement with my constituent’s case,’ Wera Hobhouse says
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
British man found with ancient shards in Iraq to stand trial
The lawyer of a British national accused by Iraq of possessing small archaeological fragments will be tried next week
Detained geologist ‘heartbroken’ at missing daughter’s wedding celebrations
The family of Jim Fitton, 66, has renewed its appeal for UK ministers to help free him from Iraq.
Get all your news in one place
Latest World news:
Seven Killed after Fire Engulfs Philippine Ferry
At least seven people were killed and scores plucked to safety in the Philippines Monday after a fire ripped through…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Monkeypox detected in Austria, Switzerland and Israel
A virus causing patients fever, rash, and exhaustion has reached three more countries. A man in Vienna was taken to…
UK to announce more monkeypox cases as efforts ramp up to contain outbreak
Close contacts of those infected with rare disease offered vaccines and told to isolate for up to 21 days
Shapiro: ‘Dangerous’ Republican rival Mastriano could override will of voters
Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor says if Mastriano wins he could wield power to choose his own slate of electors…
War Crimes Verdict Looms as Russian Offensive Intensifies
With a verdict due Monday in the conflict’s first war crimes trial, Moscow's offensive in eastern Ukraine is only intensifying,…
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
‘I’m not afraid’: after Buffalo racist attack, Black residents remain unbowed by terror
If the alleged mass murderer’s goal was to inflict terror, then the man responsible for this trauma failed miserably
France Sees EU Membership for Ukraine in '15 or 20 Years'
A bid by Ukraine to join the European Union could not be finalized for “15 or 20 years,” France’s Europe…

Retired Brit facing death penalty for 'stealing artefacts' to stand trial in Iraq

By Richard Wheeler & Laura Sharman

A retired British geologist at risk of execution over artefact smuggling allegations is expected to stand trial in Iraq.

Ministers faced fresh pleas on Wednesday to personally raise the case of Jim Fitton, 66, with their Iraqi counterparts and help end his nightmare.

The father-of-two collected 12 stones and shards of broken pottery as souvenirs while visiting a site in Eridu, south east Iraq, as part of an organised geology and archaeology tour, his family said.

Mr Fitton and a German man on the trip were arrested after the group's baggage was checked at the airport.

The British national, who lives in Malaysia, has been detained for more than six weeks.

An urgent session in the House of Commons to discuss his case heard the trial date has been set for May 15.

Mr Fitton's lawyer, Thair Soud, also said his client will stand trial before Iraq's felony court from Sunday.

Mr Fitton with his wife and two children Joshua and Leila (Fitton family / SWNS)

His lawyer will reportedly have to prove to a panel of judges that Mr Fitton did not harbour any criminal intent when he picked up shards of pottery found in the desert landscape during the visit.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the British ambassador in Iraq has raised the case four times with Iraqi authorities.

But MPs joined Mr Fitton's family in pressing for ministers to go further in a bid to persuade Iraqi authorities to accept a proposal to close the case before the trial begins.

Mr Cleverly defended the UK's response to the case but failed to commit to meeting the family and was accused by Labour of "dragging his feet" in making the ministerial-level intervention required to help protect Mr Fitton.

Mr Fitton with his wife and daughter (PA)

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse represents Mr Fitton's family based in Bath, Somerset.

She told the Commons: "Jim Fitton is potentially facing the death penalty. I urge the minister to do everything they can do to stop this nightmare before it turns into a tragedy."

A petition calling for UK ministers to intervene has collected more than 252,000 signatures.

Mr Cleverly earlier said a meeting between officials and the family took place on Wednesday.

He added: "We cannot interfere or seek to interfere with the judicial process of another country, just as we would not expect interference in our own judicial process.

(left to right) Mr Fitton's wife Sarijah Fitton, son-in-law Sam Tasker, daughter Leila and son Joshua (PA)

"That said, the British ambassador in Baghdad has raised and will continue to raise Mr Fitton's case with the Iraqi government and this includes raising with the authorities the UK's very strong opposition to the death penalty, both in terms of its potential application to Mr Fitton and also our in principle opposition to the death penalty in all instances."

Conservative former Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison said Germany, at ministerial level, appears to be "far more involved".

SNP MP Chris Law, for Dundee West, asked if it was true that ministers have "yet to lobby their Iraqi counterparts against issuing a death sentence".

Mr Cleverly reiterated the "intensive level of engagement that we have had at the most senior levels within the British embassy in Iraq, directly with the Iraqi government".

In the House of Lords, Conservative whip Lord Sharpe of Epsom agreed to a request to meet Lib Dem peer Lord Purvis of Tweed and Ms Hobhouse to discuss the case.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
Trial date for retired British geologist facing smuggling allegations in Iraq
UK ministers have faced fresh pleas to personally raise the case of Jim Fitton with their Iraqi counterparts.
UK Government ‘dragging its feet’ on assisting father detained in Iraq
BRITISH officials have repeatedly raised the case of a retired geologist at risk of being executed in Iraq, the Government…
Case of retired geologist held in Iraq raised repeatedly, minister says
Father-of-two Jim Fitton has been detained in Iraq for more than six weeks.
Jim Fitton: Government urged to stop ‘nightmare’ of Briton facing death penalty in Iraq
‘I am deeply concerned by the nature of the Foreign Office’s engagement with my constituent’s case,’ Wera Hobhouse says
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
British man found with ancient shards in Iraq to stand trial
The lawyer of a British national accused by Iraq of possessing small archaeological fragments will be tried next week
Detained geologist ‘heartbroken’ at missing daughter’s wedding celebrations
The family of Jim Fitton, 66, has renewed its appeal for UK ministers to help free him from Iraq.
Get all your news in one place