British woman released after imprisoned for pushing drugs

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Laura Plummer, a 34-year-old shop worker from Hull has been released from prison in Egypt after serving just over a year for a drugs conviction.

In October 2017, she flew into Hurghada with 290 tramadol painkillers in her luggage. She said she was taking them in for her partner, who suffers from chronic pain following a car accident.

Ms Plummer said that at the trial of on Christmas Day 2017, a guilty plea was recorded due to a mistake in translation. She was sentenced to three years in jail.

After hearing the judgment from the Red Sea town of Safaga, her MP criticised the Egyptian authorities. Karl Turner, Labour member for Hull East, called the sentence “a damning indictment” of the country’s government.

The Sun says Ms Plummer has been freed by presidential pardon and is in a police station awaiting deportation on a scheduled flight to the UK.

She told the newspaper: “I wanted to help Omar and do a kind thing and I ended up in prison.

“I just wish I wasn’t being deported. But I promise you – I’ll never set foot in an airport again.”

Egypt, in common with every other big country, has a serious problem with opiate abuse. Heroin addicts sometimes use tramadol, a very strong painkiller, as a substitute for their drug of choice.

The NHS says tramadol is prescribed “to treat moderate to severe pain, for example after an operation or a serious injury” and can be addictive.

Unlike some less-powerful analgesics, tramadol is available only on prescription. Because it is used by some people recreationally, the Department of Health limits prescriptions to 30 days’ treatment.

“If the prescription is issued for a longer period, the prescriber must justify that there is a clinical need,” doctors are told.

Ms Plummer had not been prescribed the drugs, and said that a colleague had given them to her, though it is unclear how her supplier came by such a surplus.

The Foreign Office warns British visitors to Egypt: “If you’re travelling with prescription medication you should carry a medical certificate confirming that the medication has been prescribed for a medical condition.”

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