Saturday, April 23, 2005

Saudi Arabia is safer: UK Ambassador

Saudi Arabia is safer than Nottingham, says envoy

Richard Beeston and Liz Chong

The Times 22 April 2005

THE British envoy to Saudi Arabia has suggested that security in the country has improved so much that it is now safer for a British businessman to visit a Saudi city than to go to Nottingham.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British Ambassador, risked kicking up a diplomatic storm at home when he told an audience of several hundred people in the eastern Saudi city of al-Khobar an anecdote about a British expatriate worker visiting Nottingham.
"He was saying he felt completely ridiculous having to give British businessmen from Nottingham assurances about the security here when Nottingham is the murder capital of the UK at the moment," he told a reception for the Queen’s birthday.
"It is far more dangerous, statistically, to be in Nottingham than to be in al-Khobar, Dammam or Riyadh."
The remarks sparked an angry response from the Midlands city. Jon Collins, the leader of Nottingham City Council, said that his city had been unfairly stereotyped.
"People in positions of responsibility should be responsible about what they say and not get caught up in media hyperbole which is not only damaging to Nottingham but also unfair and unnecessary," Mr Collins told The Times.
"Presumably, the ambassador has formed his view without having been to Nottingham, but if he cares to come here we’d be delighted to show him what a great place it is."
Since Islamic militants started their campaign against the regime in Saudi Arabia two years ago 250 people have been killed, including six Britons. Two militants and two soldiers were killed in a gun battle near Mecca yesterday, and six soldiers were wounded.
Last year in Nottingham 13 people were murdered and this year so far 11 have been murdered.
Nottingham is reeling from a wave of gun crime and murders fuelled by its thriving drugs trade. Steve Green, the Chief Constable, has said his force is struggling to cope. More than 40 per cent of murders are "straightforward assassinations," and the number of murders had risen by 30 per cent in 12 months, according to a government report.
Gang culture has shown no signs of abating, with the head of Nottinghamshire CID and his family moving to a secret address after

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