A FORMER Warrington resident and writer has had his first novel banned in the Middle East.

Andrew Keir, who spent six years living in Blackledge Close, Fearnhead, currently lives in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

He says his book Bloody Flies, set in Warrington and Abu Dhabi, has been banned because it covers camel jockeys – young children taken from Asian countries to race on camels.

It is a practice that was stopped five years ago, but Andrew claims it still goes on and that his book has been punished for publicising it.

The 41-year-old said: “Things were looking good and I was booked to appear at the Dubai Literature festival next year.

“It was suggested to me that I needed to submit the book for approval which didn’t surprise me as the Government has a big influence here.

“The Government says it doesn’t ban books so I thought it would be fine.

“I waited for it to come back and they said we don’t ban books here so we aren’t going to officially ban you, but we aren’t going to publish the book here or let you make any public appearances.

“So effectively it was banned, but they didn’t want it to appear like that as they wanted to appear enlightened.”

Andrew, who formerly taught economics at the then University of Manchester’s Padgate campus before leaving to teach in the Middle East in 2001, says camel jockeys were flagged up as an area of particular concern in his novel.

The dad-of-two said: “It’s officially banned but the reality is it does happen.

“It’s because of power – the Royal families are the ones who own the racing tracks.”

He is now writing other material and has recently finished a picture story book for twin sons Ewan and Warrick, aged six.

“After it was banned here I decided it’s quite difficult to work when you can’t really make personal appearances in the country that your book is set,” said Andy.

“I thought it might be time to write about something different.”

To buy a copy of Bloody Flies go to amazon.co.uk.