Friday 31 July 2020

When's Daddy Coming Home by Peter Margetts with John Cookson @petermargetts_ BLOG TOUR @RandomTTours #WhensDaddyComingHome

Peter Margetts was a successful property developer in Dubai when the city-state's economy collapsed sending his company into bankruptcy. Post-dated cheques he'd written to investors were worthless. Along with hundreds of other businessmen he was arrested under Dubai's draconian cheque laws and thrown into Central Jail with a life sentence. Locked up with hardened criminals from all over the world he struggled to survive in a world of drug warlords and mafia bosses. But Peter was no quitter and whilst making friends with gangsters, witnessing a murder and a firing-squad execution, he went on hunger strike to bring his plight to world attention. Peter's case was even raised in the British Parliament. Gripping and powerful, 'When's Daddy Coming Home?' is also brutally funny and a painful insight into the Dubai few know... or talk about.

When's Daddy Coming Home by Peter Margetts with John Cookson was published in March this year by The Conrad Press.

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today

I will never forget that rotten day.

Monday lunchtime, late January 2009; I’d just wrapped up a meeting with my attorney Ludmilla at Dubai’s luxury Shangri-La-Hotel, when my cellphone rang.

‘Peter, you’d better get your arse back to the office, something very urgents come-up.’
It was my straight-talking business partner Kieran Beeson. ‘What’s the problem?’
I sensed someone was breathing down Kieran’s neck. ‘Look, Peter, please get yourself back, now,’ pleaded Kieran, a ‘street-wise’, twenty-something.

Minutes later I was in my white Range Rover, foot down, barrelling along the Sheikh Zayed Highway to my office in Al Barsha where two men in white dishdashas were waiting.

The smiley, older one raised a hand: ‘Come on in Mr. Peter, yes, do come in,’ he beckoned.
They were cops from Dubai’s Department of Criminal Investigation, an elite force reporting directly to the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed. They investigated everything, from serious white-collar crime, to terrorism and Dubai’s underworld.
The two officers weren’t the only members of the reception committee.
I hadn’t noticed him at first, but one of my clients, a Dane in his mid-thirties, sat grim-faced and arms-crossed, in a corner. He glared at me, but, said nothing. He didn’t need to.
I’d a fair idea why police had dropped in for a little chat.
I was the boss of a Dubai-based property development company and the Dane was a member of a syndicate of forty- two Emirates airline pilots who’d invested US$7 million in my firm. The money was a loan, to build a luxury apartment complex.
But the entire Dubai economy had recently collapsed. As a result, the apartment construction project went to hell in a handcart and the pilots lost their life savings. I didn’t escape the carnage. My firm had gone bust and I was effectively bankrupt.
The meeting earlier with my lawyer had been about cobbling together a financial rescue package for the Emirates flyers.
‘OK chaps, how can I help?’ I inquired with a smile.
‘Mr. Peter, we’re taking you for questioning to Bur Dubai police station,’ said the older officer.
Now, as any old Dubai hand knew, in a potentially dodgy situation with Emirati cops, it paid to remain smiling and polite and normally any problem; or mushkela in Arabic; was smoothed over, especially for a Western expat.
As far as I knew I’d committed no crime, so I assumed we’d trot along to Bur Dubai, have a chin-wag over a glass of sweet tea, clear up any mushkela and I’d be back home in time for dinner with my lovely wife Susan, and a cuddle with our two-year-old daughter, Olivia, our little princess.
I followed the police in my own car, as they’d asked me to, for the fifteen-mile drive to Bur Dubai where I was ushered into an interrogation room and invited to sit down.
One of the CID officers immediately dived into a file and waved a post-dated security cheque in front of my nose. It was one of forty-two cheques I’d signed and handed to the pilots, as per my agreement with them.
‘Did you sign this cheque, Mr. Peter? It’s bounced. There’s no money in your account.’
I am a straight-batting sort of guy and there was no point denying it: ‘Yes, of course that’s my signature, definitely. My company collapsed, that’s why there’s no money, the pilots know that,’ I replied.
Looking back, I wished I’d taken a moment, at that point to call to my attorney Ludmilla, because events took a life-altering twist.
Immediately I nodded I’d signed the bounced cheque, the two cops ended the interview, told me I’d been arrested, and then escorted me to another interrogation room deeper inside the Bur Dubai police complex, where they locked me in.
The clunking sound of the lock made me feel chill. Everyone in Dubai was aware of Bur Dubai’s sinister reputation for violence among prisoners and for police brutality.
A few years before fourteen prisoners were killed when another inmate set fire to a cell.

Peter Margetts is a self-made millionaire who rose from humble, working-class roots to establish a property development company in Dubai. 

After almost nine years' incarceration in Dubai Central Jail he is now free. 

John Cookson is an award-winning journalist who began his career in Fleet Street and afterwards spent 30 years as a senior correspondent at Sky News, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg Television, Euronews and African start-up Arise News. 

He is also a qualified lawyer.

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