Navy hero who won the George Cross for bravery in Afghanistan has been detained in a Dubai prison for seven mo – Daily Mail

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A highly-decorated Royal Marine has spent the last seven months in a cramped, unsanitary Dubai prison after being accused of spying, it emerged last night.

Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, 40, was thrown into jail and had his passport confiscated – yet he has been told next to nothing about the case against him.

The ex-Commando received the George Cross after jumping on a Taliban grenade to save his colleagues.

Remarkably LCpl Croucher survived the incident in Sangin, Afghanistan, in 2008 after his body armour repelled the force of the blast.

He subsequently left the Corps to become a security consultant and was working in the UAE when he was suddenly arrested last year.

Lance Cpl Matthew Croucher has spent the last seven months in a cramped, unsanitary Dubai prison after being accused of spying. Croucher is pictured receiving the George Cross at Buckingham Palace

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher who saved his colleagues by diving in front of a grenade. He is pictured while on his last tour of Afghanistan

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II meets Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, holder of the George Cross, during a reception at Buckingham Palace in 2010

Croucher, who is now a security consultant based out of the UK, was arrested on November 4 after Dubai officials accused him of ‘intentionally and illegally accessing a telecommunications network’.

They have not said who they claim he was spying on, nor who he was supposedly working for, the Times reported.

Officials reportedly obtained an electronic device, which Croucher claimed was used in his day-to-day job for security penetration testing, after obtaining a warrant to search where he was living. 

He was forced to sleep on the floor while in prison as it was so overcrowded, according to a close friend who added he was also made to eat a ‘primitive meal of rice and chicken twice a day with very unsanitary amenities’. 

The friend claimed he was interrogated by Dubai’s police Criminal Investigation Department for six hours, during which he was questioned about his role within the UK’s Ministry of Defence and intelligence services. 

Croucher was eventually released from prison after four days but after having his phone, passport and internet banking access device confiscated, he is now stuck in the country with no money. 

Since his release he has been required to report to the Al Barsha police station each week until March 27, all while being told his situation would be resolved ‘next week’.

Croucher has lived in Dubai from 2014 to 2021 working with authorities on ‘security related matters’, according to the Times. 

Matt Croucher is pictured with his then girlfriend Victoria Cross in 2008

Croucher holds the backpack that he was wearing when he jumped on a grenade, outside HMS President in London

His family, from Solihull in the West Midlands, said: ‘We’re shocked at the circumstances which have played out. He was only due to be away for a couple of weeks. We don’t understand why it is taking so long to process the case.

‘We believe the case to be made up and ridiculous. The Foreign Office has been useless, often making things worse and telling him his case has been formally concluded.

‘This has caused our family immense stress and we just hope this can be concluded at the earliest opportunity.’

Croucher’s friend added: ‘Unable to earn, access banking and having to fund his stay in Dubai, unable to leave, has caused significant financial strain. 

‘This has also put a huge strain on his family who are left waiting in the UK with no answers or support.

‘He was only due to be passing through the country for a few days to catch up with friends before returning to the UK.’

Croucher won the George Cross, Britain’s highest honour for valour on the battlefield not ‘in the face of the enemy’, for his heroics in February 2008.

During a night raid on a Taliban compound, he stepped on a tripwire triggering a grenade.

Instead of fleeing he deliberately smothered the explosion, twisting on to his back to let his rucksack take the full force and thereby prevent all four members of his patrol being killed by the blast.

The explosion hurled him across the compound leaving him stunned, bleeding from the nose and almost deaf. But within minutes the Marine was continuing the patrol.

His rucksack was shredded and burning shrapnel from the kit he had been carrying was scattered around the area, with pieces found embedded in his helmet and body armour.

Croucher, who now runs his own security business, was arrested on November 4 after Dubai officials accused him of 'intentionally and illegally accessing a telecommunications network'

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, a Victoria Cross medal holder, pictured with Lance Corporal Matt Croucher at St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London in 2010

Croucher recalled later: ‘I thought, ‘I’ve set this bloody thing off and I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect the others’.

‘The lads behind me would have caught a lot. I’m very tight with the other three guys. There’s been a few times when they’ve saved my bacon.

‘I figured that if I could keep my torso and head intact I’d probably survive any other injuries – although I fully expected to lose a limb.’

The George Cross ranks alongside the Victoria Cross as the highest medal for valour.

The VC is awarded for outstanding bravery ‘in the face of the enemy’ and is often regarded as more prestigious, although the GC recognises the same level of gallantry in cases where no enemy is present.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We are supporting a British man in the UAE and are in contact with the local authorities.’

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