Robert Urwin returns home from Ukraine over bounced cheque

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image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionRobert Urwin was in a Ukrainian prison cell with convicted murderers

A British man stranded in Ukraine for a year over a bounced cheque he did not write has returned home.

Robert Urwin, 68, from South Shields, was detained over claims he wrote the cheque for more than £30,000 in Dubai 13 years ago.

He was cleared and released in Ukraine in December 2018 but was unable to travel home because of an Interpol red notice that remained in place.

The Foreign Office said he arrived back in the UK on Saturday.

It was paid into a branch of HSBC in Dubai in 2006, a year after he left the UAE, when it bounced.

Campaign group Detained in Dubai said the bank asked Interpol to issue a red notice, which notifies member countries that a person is wanted.

Mr Urwin was detained in Ukraine and faced extradition proceedings before being cleared.

image copyrightRobert Urwin
image captionMr Urwin spent more than 40 days in an Odessa jail

He successfully argued he was the victim of identity fraud but was unable to travel home because the red notice had not been removed from Interpol's database, Detained in Dubai said.

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said: "We appealed successfully to Interpol for the removal of the abusive red notice, and we received files from Ukrainian officials indicating that local police had no complaint against Robert in their database, yet he had still not been cleared to exit the country."

She said it took more than 40 days since Interpol to delete the red notice, adding that the UK government "stepped-up" to help.

HSBC and Interpol have been approached for comment.

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