A businessman from High Wycombe is facing 37 years in a Qatar prison for issuing cheques that bounced, on behalf of the company he worked for.

Jonathan Nash, former CEO at Top House in Qatar, says he is the victim of an internal power struggle at the company, and that he has been used as a “fall-guy” for the liquidation of the company’s assets.

Mr Nash wrote a number of cheques on behalf of the business, which provides technical, commercial and management services to the local construction industry, to clients and suppliers, which were reportedly blocked by the firm following an alleged internal disagreement.

He found himself personally liable and facing the rest of his life in prison.

He added that a “campaign of lies and rumours” damaged his business reputation to the extent that a number of his clients and suppliers “lost confidence” in him and decided to cash cheques he had written in a rush to get their money.

But because of the reported internal disagreement, the funds were not available from their business accounts to cover the cheques, with Mr Nash now being held responsible.

He was arrested and jailed in March 2015.

The father-of-two’s desperate family are now publicising his plight in the hope that “compassion and sensibility will overturn this cruel and unusual sentence”, and Mr Nash has told supporters that his business partner are divvying up his stake in the business.

His mother Jennie said: “This is every mother’s worst nightmare. We all think it will never happen to us – when it does it is a real shock.

“Jonathan’s detention and heavy prison sentence have left us all reeling, we feel so helpless and we are really concerned for his well-being and safety.”

Speaking from prison, Mr Nash says he believes Top House assets, including cars and office furniture are being sold off and that the funds have disappeared.

His ex-wife Bev said: “Life has been very hard for me and our two children. It has affected my health with stress and anxiety.

“Our children have been very brave during this period, especially our daughter. Sadly for both children they have lived several of their young years without the love and support of a father.”

Mr Nash said as CEO it was normal practice to write advance cheques as assurance of payment to clients and suppliers.

Daughter Katie, 17, added: “My Dad has missed some important times in my life, for example my GCSE years and results, my prom and other special times.

“I haven’t hugged my Dad in over three years.

I miss my Dad so much, he has missed a massive part of my life by not being here with me.

“My Dad and I were so close, last time I saw him I was 13 years old, I’m now 17 years old. I just want him home as soon as possible.”

Campaign group Detained in Dubai, which is providing legal support to Mr Nash, said that the shock felt by him and his family at the prospect of him spending the rest of his life in prison was “immense”.

CEO and founder Radha Stirling said: “Holding an individual personally responsible for such large amounts of corporate debt is not a standard the international business community follows, and certainly a 37 year prison sentence in such a case is beyond all norms.

“Business practice in the Qatar must be reformed to bring it in line with international standards. The cheque system used in the Qatar is antiquated and as many find to their cost, open to fraud even by those with good business reputations.

“In most countries, if someone is innocent they’d have a chance to prove it in court. But because this is Qatar, Jonathan has not been allowed to defend himself or present evidence in his own favour, as he would have been if he had been at home in the UK.”