Conrad Clitheroe Gary Cooper
Conrad Clitheroe, left, and Gary Cooper, right have been locked up in a Dubai prison for 10 days Valerie Clitheroe

The families of two Stockport men arrested for plane-spotting and imprisoned for the last 10 days in a Dubai prison cell have expressed their fears for their safety.

Conrad Clitheroe, 54, a father-of-two, and his friend Gary Cooper, 45, were in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with another friend, expat Neil Munro, to indulge their lifetime hobby of plane-spotting.

The three men were 80 miles from Dubai at Fujairah Airport, where older and rarer aircraft can be seen, when their activities attracted the attention of a policeman who said they had been using a telescope and writing down registration numbers. They are not believed to have taken any photographs as they were aware this was prohibited.

There are concrete beds, no change of clothes, no soap for five days. They had some blankets but they were stolen by other inmates
- Valerie Clitheroe

The men were taken to a local police station and according to some media reports were asked to sign a statement on a form written in Arabic and told if they did they would be released. Instead they were locked up overnight and after appearing before a local court next morning transferred to Fujairah Prison where they share a cell with around 20 other men.

Clitheroe, who has a serious heart condition which necessitates taking medicine, was due to arrive back at the home he shares with wife Valerie on 22 February, but instead to her horror she had a call from the Home Office.

"I'm so worried," Valerie told the Manchester Evening News. "The whole family is devastated and we just feel so helpless. He has a serious heart problem and it took days before he saw a doctor and even now I don't know if they have given him the right medication.

New Year 2015
Despite its glamour, Dubai is a 'dictatorship not a democracy' DowntownDubai/YouTube

"I just want him to come home. I haven't been without him for longer than four nights ever. We all want him home. There are concrete beds, no change of clothes, no soap for five days. They had some blankets but they were stolen by other inmates.

"I can't actually believe this is happening. He's such a lovely guy who wouldn't harm a fly. He would never do anything to put himself in this situation."

Mr Clitheroe and Mr Cooper work for the same logistics company and have both spotted planes since childhood. The wife of Mr Cooper is said to be too upset to give interviews.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said they were aware of the situation. "We can confirm the arrest of three British nationals in Dubai on 22 February," she said. "We are providing consular assistance at this time."

Radha Sterling, founder of Detained In Dubai said: "People should be reminded that the UAE has a dictatorship not a democracy and foreign visitors face a full range of unfamiliar threats. We call upon the UAE government to release the three men who have committed no unlawful act and have simply visited as tourists."