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Saudis Deport 23 British Nurses for Illegal Drinking

November 03, 1986|United Press International

LONDON — A group of British nurses expelled from Saudi Arabia for taking part in an illegal drinking party returned home today but three other hospital workers remained in jail for riding in a car with men who were not their husbands.

Saudi authorities deported the 23 nurses, all working at a military hospital in Riyadh, for violating the country's strict anti-alcohol laws at an Aug. 20 birthday party where homemade wine was served.

The expulsions came barely one week before Prince Charles and Princess Diana are to leave for a nine-day visit to Saudi Arabia and three other Middle East nations.

The returning nurses accused the Saudis of conducting a purge against Britons and one, identifying herself only as Nichola, said, "At the moment, it's a serious situation."

Nurses Margaret Delaney and Alison Lee and secretary Julie Cocayne have been in jail for more than a week for violating Islamic law by riding in a car with men who were not their husbands, Nichola said.

Another nurse, who gave her name only as Jean, said the three had not been charged and that "there are a lot of rumors flying around. We did hear that the paper work has been signed for them and hopefully they will be out in a few days."

A nurse named Helen said the nurses' party was raided by a dozen Saudi religious police, followed by 15 to 20 regular police. Later, she said, "We were called into the personnel department and told they were terminating our contracts."

They were told "it was for our own safety that we were being sent home," she said.

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