British Foreign Secretary criticises judge for stripping diplomatic immunity from Juffalli

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British Foreign Secretary criticises judge for stripping diplomatic immunity from Juffalli
Walid Juffali claimed immunity because of his role as permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation for St Lucia. Photograph: Valentin Flauraud/epa/Corbis
 Walid Juffali claimed immunity because of his role as permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation for St Lucia. Photograph: Valentin Flauraud/epa/Corbis
Walid Juffali claimed immunity because of his role as permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation for St Lucia. Photograph: Valentin Flauraud/epa/Corbis

THE GUARDIAN – Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, has taken the highly unusual step of criticising a high court judge’s decision to strip diplomatic immunity from a Saudi billionaire facing divorce proceedings from his estranged wife.

Last month Christina Estrada, a former Pirelli calendar model, won the right to fight for a share of Sheikh Walid Juffali’s £4bn fortune. The couple split up following 13 years of marriage.

At the high court, Justice Anthony Hayden dismissed as “spurious” the Saudi businessman’s claim to have been shielded from litigation because of his role as permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the tiny Caribbean island of St Lucia.

However, the Foreign Office said that if the decision stood, British diplomats could be hauled before the courts of any country in which they are serving and their position “scrutinised, and their status unjustifiably curtailed”. Hammond bluntly said the high court’s ruling “should not be upheld or endorsed”.

In the Juffali case, the judge decided that he had “no pre-existing connection to St Lucia” and there was no evidence that he “has any knowledge or experience of maritime matters”. He said the Saudi businessman only sought to become a diplomat to defeat “[his wife’s] claims consequent on the breakdown of their marriage”.

Juffali’s role as a diplomat, said the judge, was “an entirely artificial construct”, adding the sheikh “has not, in any real sense, taken up his appointment, nor has he discharged any responsibilities in connection with it”.

Juffali, who chairs one of Saudi Arabia’s largest companies, sought to reverse the judgment in the court of appeal. He said the decision was “deeply offensive, not least in its conclusion that his appointment … is an artifice”. The judgment is expected this week.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Let's look at this case from another angle... Let's imagine for a minute that the roles were reversed and Juffali was a British Diplomat . There is no way on earth lifting his diplomatic immunity would have been an option.
    But guess what, bigger countries--on the world stage--get to bully the smaller ones.
    *Disclaimer: I'm in no way saying that having a diplomat that attends no meetings on our behalf is right.

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  2. I do feel so sorry for the opposition UWP.
    After they were parading their voices and acting like Agents of the UK living in Saint Lucia, their pack of lies and deceit have now crumbled for all us all to see.

    See, when you lie, lie and continue your vitriolic hate speech just to rally your ill-informed and ignorant people around this island with the intent to win a general election, there is a bigger power out-there, who will unmask you and expose your evil intentions.

    The Truth will always TRIUMPH and LIVE ON.

    I AM A PATRIOTIC SAINT LUCIAN!

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    • No need to feel sorry for UWP.
      You think this will now convince people to think highly of SLP? Please.

      You and I both know that SLP would have done EXACTLY what UWP did if UWP had made that appointment.
      You know SLP would never have kept quiet.

      So let us not pretend.

      Patriotic St.Lucian my foot. Only when it suits us. Only when it suits us.

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  3. This does not change the court's decisions one bit! and you better believe that the Saudi is no longer recognised as a diplomat in the UK. Politicians dont make laws courts do. And you should not even be surprised at anything that is said that seem to be contrary to what the judge says.The judge just got to lifting immunity before the foreign office did. thats all that story is telling you. Now you all see the ramifications of Hilaire Volaire in a diplomatic post (you can strike that damn comment if you all want too) it does not change facts. There is even more that so far has not been told. You all better believe that.

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    • Go Back under the rock!
      Your ignorance and HATE is running deep through your veins.

      You're upset because your party (the UWP) has lost again and will continue losing.

      Get lost along with your other LOSERS!

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  4. Oh put a sock in it. By George (English accent).

    In light of human rights etc this diplomatic immunity thing needs to be examined. And I believe the powers that be, might be inclined to go that route in the future to avoid persons being above the law.

    Time for this Juffali movie to end.

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