Dubai Beach Romp Woman a Nervous Wreck Now

by Gopalan on Sep 7 2008 9:52 AM

The bubbly, happy-go-lucky, dare-bare Michelle Palmer of UK is a nervous wreck now. She is dreading her future as the trial over her beach romp drags on in Dubai.

She has become a recluse, her sense of humiliation so all-consuming she can't bear to go out and be seen at all.

Last Tuesday she appeared before a judge at Dubai's Court of First Instance, wearing a black trouser suit and a dark green scarf over her head, apparently as a mark of respect for Islamic customs.

The 36-year-old publishing executive looked tense and pale, while her businessman co-defendant, Vince Acors (34), seemed more relaxed. But the pair exchanged not a word or a glance.

The hearing was adjourned until this coming Tuesday so that the police officer, Ali Mohammed Yacoub, could be summonsed to give evidence in person.

Palmer and Acors are accused of breaking the laws of the United Arab Emirates by having sex outside marriage, being involved in a scandalous public act and drinking alcohol.

Michelle, like many other expats, was a regular at the Friday brunch at Le Meridien hotel near Dubai airport.

For £60 there is unlimited food and as much Bollinger or Taittinger champagne as you can drink, and it is customary for everyone to get completely plastered. In short, a rather unedifying way to live.

Miss Palmer, originally from Oakham, Rutland, had arrived in Dubai three years previously after splitting up with a long-term boyfriend.

Her most recent relationship, with a Lebanese or Jordanian man, is said to have lasted three months before ending earlier this year when he informed her in bed that he was married.

At the brunch on July 4, Michelle was introduced to Vince Acors, a telecoms sales director from Bromley, Kent, who is divorced with a seven-year-old son, and was on a four-day business trip to the UAE.

She was stone drunk as she left with Acors early that evening.

According to the policeman's statement, two men stopped his patrol car as he was passing and told him: 'There is a guy having sex with a girl on the beach.' He took his torch and went to investigate.

'I saw a woman going up and down in a circular motion. Her breasts were out and she was making a moaning sound.

'Her shirt was off and she was sitting on him and their voices were excited.

'I shone my torch on them and said: "Excuse me." It was only then they noticed me.'

Some reports suggest the officer cautioned the pair and then returned to them when he was ignored, others that Michelle launched into a tirade against the arresting officer at the scene and tried to whack him with her shoe.

Other reports say this happened at the police station. Afterwards, a Dubai police commander said Miss Palmer would now be free if she had not been so rude and obnoxious at the scene.

Both Michelle and Acors deny having sex, and their lawyer, Hassan Matter, says he is convinced of their innocence and has evidence to prove it.

The pair were arrested at 1.25am and medical tests were conducted seven hours later at 8.30am to ascertain whether intercourse had taken place, Miss Palmer having to subject herself to the indignity of an internal examination.

'The results were negative,' says Hassan Matter. 'The doctor concluded that she had not had sex. She is innocent.

'Michelle is a good, respectable woman who should not have to be put through all of this.'

But the prosecution is adamant that the tests showed Michelle did have sex.

One source close to the prosecution, who asked not to be identified, told Natalie Clarke of Daily Mail: 'It's all lies. The tests showed the woman had sex. There is a very strong case against her.

'We have eye witnesses, as well as his [Acors'] first statement in which he admitted having sex with Michelle Palmer, which he later denied.

'She won't receive special treatment because she is a Westerner. She will be convicted and she will go to jail.'

Following her arrest on July 5, she has become an increasingly nervous and paranoid figure and spends her days behind closed doors at a secret address, Daily Mail reports.

After the scandal broke, she was swiftly sacked from her £25,000 job as associate publisher for the firm ITP.

She has nothing to look forward to but the possibility of going to prison, and the thought of it terrifies her.

According to one associate, she reportedly suffered a panic attack last week and had to go to hospital.

'She was unable to breathe and they had to give her an injection to calm her down,' says the friend, who is too nervous to be named.

'It breaks my heart to see her like this. The once bubbly, workaholic Michelle I knew has turned into a nervous and very scared wreck.'

Her colleagues speak of her as a promiscuous and stupid woman who didn't know or care about the cultural sensitivities of the country where she had come to live. All she was interested in, it seemed, was the tax-free high living.

At the moment, more than 85 per cent of the estimated 1.8million residents are from overseas, and there is a 120,000-strong expat British community

Even so, the authorities are keen to attract even more wealthy business travellers.

But beneath the ultra-modern landscape is a society rooted in Sharia law and tribal life. There is zero tolerance of drugs and pornography. Homosexuality is banned.

The case of Miss Palmer has become symbolic of the uneasy co-existence of East and West.

At the first court hearing, a written statement by Miss Palmer was read out in which she apologised for her actions.

'It was just kissing and hugging. We did not have sex.

'I have spent two and a half years in Dubai - I know how it works. I am very, very sorry.'

When the scandal broke, she posted a message on a blog begging for leniency.

She wrote: 'Please be sympathetic for the sake of those I love. If this were your sister, brother, daughter or son, how would you really be feeling?

'We have all made silly, regretful mistakes in life, which some pay all too dearly [for].

'Please imagine if it were you. This is punishment enough.'

It is too early to speculate. But clearly her hedonism would haunt her for the rest of her life.