Dubai International Airport
William Barclay was detained at Dubai International Airport over an incident that happened in 2016 REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

An Edinburgh plasterer faces up to a year in jail in the United Arab Emirates after being accused of using a counterfeit £20 banknote.

William Barclay was held up at Dubai International Airport in September in connection with an incident at a shopping mall in the country last year, the BBC reported. Barclay was questioned by police for three days before being released on bail and having his passport confiscated.

The Foreign Office is providing assistance.

In 2016, Barclay was questioned by detectives for 12 hours after attempting to exchange money at the Al Hamra Mall in Das Al Khaimah. According to the BBC, Barclay was accused of being in possession of counterfeit money.

However, he was told that no charges would be levied and was allowed to continue on his family holiday.

When the 31-year-old returned to Dubai on 15 September this year with his wife and his two children, he was stopped at the airport.

Radha Stirling, chief executive of the British non-governmental organisation Detained In Dubai that is representing Barclay, said: "Clearly in this case, Mr Barclay received a counterfeit note that was already in circulation and is himself a victim.

"Charging him over a fake note he received and passed unknowingly is not an effective way to deal with the problem of counterfeiting and it once again highlights the risks visitors to the UAE face from the country's legal system."

Barclay told reporters he was held in shackles for three days before being released on bail. "We tried telling them about the mix-up last year but for some reason I was still in the computer as wanted for passing on fake money," he told the Mirror. "I was held in shackles for three days in a cell away from my family."

Despite being released, Barclay must remain "indefinitely" in the UAE until his case is finished, Stirling said. "We hope that the charges will ultimately be dropped, but in the meantime, Mr Barclay is in a very difficult situation."

Barclay's wife Monique and the couple's children, nine-year-old Madison and seven-year-old Billy Jr, have since returned to Edinburgh. He faces up to a year in jail in the UAE, a £1,000 fine and deportation back to the UK.