UK judges slammed for being on payroll of Emirati regime
Top Scottish judges have been accused of selling out the country’s judicial system by working for the UAE government and other repressive regimes in the Middle East.
In a damning exposé last week, The Daily Record provided details of UK judges arbitrating in Emirati courts, where domestic violence against women is legal and government critics are often tortured and jailed without trial.
Scotland’s former lord president and an ex-deputy president of the UK Supreme Court, Lord David Hope of Craighead, is currently serving as chief justice of Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts.
The Abu Dhabi court also hires the services of Lord James McGhie, along with six other male judges from the UK and the commonwealth. According to the Daily Record’s investigation, McGhie had been registered to sit on the Emirati court while also serving on Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told the Scottish daily: “It seems highly inappropriate for Scotland’s previous top judge and former deputy president of the UK Supreme Court to work for the UAE given its poor human rights record.
“He’s giving legitimacy to the UAE’s legal system, which does not conform to international standards and is accused of suppressing civil liberties and freedom of expression.”
The chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market Court is Emirati businessman Ahmed Ali Al Sayagh, who was recently sworn in as Minister of State in the UAE.
Detained in Dubai’s David Haigh told The Daily Record: “This is judges for sale – and they appear happy to be sold.
“When people realise that they’re flogging our law for their golden retirements they’ll be appalled. They get paid a fortune. It’s sheer greed. They’re selling the reputation of British law which is not theirs to sell.”
David Haigh was arrested in Dubai in 2014 after his employers, GFH capital, accused him of embezzlement - a charge he denies to this day. He went on to be held without trial for 14 months. During this period Haigh says he was raped and tortured on numerous occasions by Emirati security officials.
Since being released, he has campaigned vehemently for the UAE’s extradition treaty with the UK to be scrapped on human rights grounds.
Following the UK's High Court precedent of Lodhi in 2010, no individual has been extradited to the UAE due to concerns that human rights may be violated in the event the requests were approved.
“Extradition attempts by Dubai are unsuccessful because the UK courts have concluded there’s a real risk of torture, abuse, discrimination and unfair trials.
“So, while our courts refuse to extradite to the UAE, our judges are happy to sit in their courts.
“For the judges to say they’re independent is nonsense. These countries are using judges to give their courts credibility.
“It’s terrible. I’ve obviously experienced it myself. I find it horrifying that former UK judges can turn a blind eye to what’s going on.” Haigh added.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay described the Daily Record’s revelations as ‘remarkable’, commenting:
“Here we see what appears to be sitting and former Scottish judges cashing in on their status working for a regime who, according to Human Rights Watch, are involved in the Saudi coalition attacks on Yemen, have an appalling record on workers’ rights, arbitrarily detain and forcibly disappear individuals who criticise authorities, legally permit domestic violence and use the death penalty.
“How can people who make or have made their living upholding the law in the UK defend their involvement, albeit in the commercial courts, of a legal system such as the UAE?”
The Daily Record’s investigation also found that retired British judges were arbitrating on Qatari courts, another Gulf state with a poor human rights record.