Pardon Me, Ms Plummer! British Tourist or Egyptian Drug Smuggler? By Lucy Chapman

So it looks like any day soon, Laura Plummer will be a free woman once more!

It’s been reported today that the 33 year old from Hull who smuggled 300 Tramadol tablets into Egypt in October, may be released from her 3 year jail sentence as part of public holiday celebrations by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, although nothing official has yet been confirmed.

Whilst for Laura and her family this will offer a wonderful ray of hope, some of the rest of us are left wondering what all of the outrage was in aid of in the first place.

Yes prison isn’t fun, in an Egyptian prison you’d be more than a little worried; the death penalty was a possibility, but she did commit a crime.

This wasn’t one pack of Tramadol she had in the bottom of her handbag for her own use and she hadn’t double checked, this was THREE HUNDRED tablets.

Back home we saw family members weeping on breakfast television, heard distressed friends of Laura on the radio, and again I’ll repeat, of course they should be upset for their loved one!

But why so much coverage of it in the media?

It’s not as if it’s even legal here! It’s available on prescription, but not over the counter to buy so it gets me wondering…

Who were these three hundred tablets prescribed to?

How many hours of a GPs time have been wasted in fake “oh my back’s still giving me trouble, Doc” appointments?

How much has that cost our struggling NHS?

What charge would somebody get in the UK for fraudulently obtaining prescription-only medication to pass on to somebody else for whom it was not meant?

Laura Plummer, I’m afraid, committed an offence despite her lack of knowledge of Egyptian law. And whether or not she knew the legality of the medicine itself, she knew it wasn’t prescribed for her boyfriend, that it had been obtained through deceit and legal or not, it was wrong.

NHS fraud can hold a custodial sentence here in the UK and NHS fraud does include “False claims – Patients claiming free treatment they are not entitled to”

Shortly after Ms Plummer made her ‘honest mistake’ a headline in the Independent read “NHS counter fraud authority to tackle £1.25bn bogus prescriptions and claims that could fund 40,000 nurses”.

Laura Plummer isn’t all that innocent in the eyes of our own law and people; so why are so many jumping to her defence overseas?

Let me be clear, I don’t have the slightest problem with a family trying to free their loved one from an Egyptian prison sentence; I’d certainly do the same! I’m sure it’s terrifying for this woman who is the same age as I am; I would be despairing too.

I have nothing against this woman personally or any desire for her to be in an Egyptian prison, of course not.

What I have a problem with is how as a nation we’ve dealt with this story and situation!

Aren’t there bigger injustices to fight?

She wasn’t sentenced to the death penalty, she was given three years; it doesn’t even sound all that disproportionate to me.

The month after Plummer was arrested, 16 men were also sentenced to three years in prison in Egypt. Their crime? Waving a rainbow flag at a concert!!

Is waving flags illegal in Egypt? No.

Is homosexuality illegal in Egypt? No.

Is going to a concert illegal in Egypt? No.

Is smuggling three hundred Tramadol tablets into the country? Yes. Yes it is!

You committed a crime, you got caught, it’s rubbish. Suck it up!

Debauchery is what the men were charged with by the way.

I wonder what would have been splattered across our newspapers, talked about on morning television and discussed on radio if the story was “Egyptian man smuggles 300 illegal tablets into the UK claiming ‘honest mistake’ to help his British girlfriend with back pain”.

Do you think we, as a nation, would be up in arms fighting for his pardoning by the Prime Minister?

No me neither.